Christmas in London then and now: Covid-19 takes toll on window shoppers

Are London’s Christmas displays enough to lure shoppers?

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These pictures show the stark reality of footfall on Oxford Street this year.

The Christmas decorations are up and the window displays are set – but London’s premier shopping destination is deserted.

The National took to Oxford Street, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square on the final days before lockdown ended to compare footfall this year compared with the same time last year.

Many of the festive traditions remain the same but the crowds have vanished.


However, that could all change on Wednesday when England emerges from its second lockdown and shops reopen.

British retailers are hoping to salvage what they can ahead of Christmas, which ordinarily coincides with a huge surge in sales.


In a move designed to boost business, the government said on Monday that retailers are allowed to stay open 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas and January.


Local councils will be allowed to temporarily waive the rules restricting opening hours.

A traffic ban will be brought in for central London’s busy Regent Street for three Saturdays in December to provide more space for Christmas shoppers.


Confederation of British Industries principal economist Ben Jones said: “For many retail sectors, particularly those with less of an online presence, conditions remain extremely challenging.


“Retailers will be looking to salvage what they can from a very difficult year and many will be greatly relieved by the announcement that they can re-open over the crucial Christmas trading period.


“With encouraging progress on mass, rapid testing and vaccine solutions coming down the track, there is reason for growing consumer and business confidence going into 2021.”