January 3, 2012 London Evening Standard
The arrival of the £1.4 billion Westfield shopping centre that will form a gateway to the London Olympics has left local businesses fighting for survival, traders say.
When Westfield Stratford City opened its doors in east London in September amid a flurry of publicity there were promises that its “fabulous” shops and restaurants would benefit the whole area.
But three months on, local retailers say they are struggling to stay afloat as consumers head straight for the new centre and ignore the old shops and cafes.
Some report a decline in trade of as much as 90 per cent since Westfield opened, with others saying the devastating impact it has had on their businesses means they have no future.
Alan Harris, 53, who has owned The Card Stop on The Broadway in Stratford for nearly 40 years, said he used to see trade at his card shop increase by about 30 per cent around Christmas – but this year it declined by 40 per cent.
“If you go over to Westfield, it’s heaving with people,” he said. “Quite clearly we are going to be destroyed ultimately. We haven’t got a long-term future.”
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