Date set for London's biggest traffic-free shopping day with top west end retailers and Mayor of London

5 November 2008

The New West End Company, which represents the retailers of London’s West End, was joined by leading UK retailers and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to announce the world’s biggest traffic-free Christmas shopping day for 2008. Confirmed for Saturday 6 December, the event dubbed Shop West End VIP Day (which stands for Very Important Pedestrians) will see both Oxford Street and Regent Street cleared of traffic - leaving the entire area free for shoppers to enjoy.  

30 Santas On Scooters took over London’s West End this morning to celebrate the launch, which will see the West End become traffic-free for a mega shopping day, 30 days from today.

Dame Judith Mayhew-Jonas, Chairman of New West End Company joined the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, along with top West End retailers: Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Marks & Spencer; Harold Tillman, Owner of Jaeger and Chairman of the British Fashion Council; Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis; Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, Chief Executive of Liberty and Cllr Robert Davis DL, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council along with hundreds of West End Santas at London’s Oxford Circus to mark the announcement. 

The event, now in its fourth consecutive year, attracted 1 million shoppers spending over £100million in one day in 2007.  This year’s Shop West End VIP traffic-free shopping event will be extended to a weekend of in-store and on-street activity, enabling retailers to attract more shoppers to the West End in this year’s challenging economic climate. 100 West End stores will be involved in the event. While Sunday will be devoted to family orientated fun, Saturday’s traffic-free streets will be dedicated to enticing Christmas shoppers. Retailers will be pulling out all the stops to draw customers in with entertainment, exclusive offers and VIP treats.  

Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, Chairman of New West End Company, VIP  Weekend  organizers said, “We have every expectation that VIP Weekend will add a much needed strong boost to retailer Christmas trading. It will be a tremendous draw for shoppers who come to the West End  to enjoy the world class shopping  and make the most of the cultural surroundings, including the world renowned theatre and art galleries.  VIP Weekend also shows how much more appealing the West End can  be for shoppers to enjoy with less traffic. It’s our goal to reduce the number of buses on Oxford Street by 40% over the next four years , to ensure the West End maintains its competitive advantage internationally, and holds its position as the world's top shopping destination.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said, “London’s West End is known around the world as a fantastic place to shop, attracting millions of visitors from across the country and overseas each year. Our stylish department stores and great bars and restaurants make shopping in the West End a great day out but on VIP day it will be a unique experience when, for one day, shoppers will own both the pavements and the streets. The traffic-free shopping day has been a stunning success in the past and I look forward to hearing the West End was packed to the rafters once again this year."
Sir Stuart Rose, M&S Chairman said, “Oxford Street is at its best when it’s traffic-free and VIP Day is now firmly established as a key Christmas shopping date for M&S customers. We’re delighted to be supporting it again this year.”

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said, "The West End is one of the world's great shopping destinations and the traffic-free day always shows it at its very best. We're once again delighted to be welcoming customers on VIP Day to our flagship Oxford Street shop, including our Food Hall. We look forward to showcasing what we believe is a truly inspiring Christmas assortment from John Lewis."

Cllr Robert Davis DL, Westminster City Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “As well as great shops there’s an unrivalled choice of restaurants, entertainment and theatre in the West End which no where else in the UK can match. The VIP days have become an essential addition to the Christmas shopping calendar which we're proud to support, and we have offered to hold an additional day as part of our economic recovery plan for the West End.”

"Retailers, like all of us, are facing challenging times in the current economic climate. Although there are significant hurdles in closing off such an important artery in the road network, we want to do our bit to help the West End economy.”

Harold Tillman, Owner of Jaeger and Chairman of the British Fashion Council said, “It’s great to see all the retailers across Oxford Street and Regent Street uniting for VIP Day to offer shoppers a really incredible Christmas shopping experience.”

Retailers are expected to roll out the red carpet treatment and welcome shoppers to the Shop West End VIP Day from 12 noon – 5pm, with traffic being cleared from 10.30am and allowed back into the streets from 8pm, many shops will be open until 9pm.
West End Events
Thursday 6 November Regent Street Lights Switch-on
Wednesday 12 November Oxford Street Lights Switch-on
Thursday 13 November Jermyn Street’s fabulous Christmas shopping event
Wednesday 19 November South Molton Street Lights Switch-on
Thursday 20 November Bond Street’s Bond Noel event
Friday 28 November The first ever Early Bird Shopping Morning when West End stores open from 7am for a chance to beat the crowds – the perfect solution for the time poor busy shopper.
Saturday & Sunday 6/7 December Shop West End VIP Weekend – a traffic-free Saturday filled with entertainment and special offers followed by a family focused Sunday full of fun for kids of all ages.

Further information about the Shop West End VIP Day with Visa can be found on www.westendvip.com (Live from Monday 10 November)
Ends

Notes to Editors

New West End Company is a company dedicated to driving forward London’s West End as the world’s top shopping destination.   With a £34m budget until 2013 it is supported and run by major retailers and property owners in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. 

New West End Company ensures the ongoing commercial success of the area by promoting the district, delivering street management services, funding public realm projects to improve the shopping environment.  It is a leading partner in the biggest regeneration programme of London’s West End in its history.  Find out more at www.newwestend.com.

200 million visitors travel into the West End each year.  Of these visitors 25% are from overseas and a further 21% are from outside of London. 

Oxford Street was named best destination in the Visit London awards 2007.

SPONSOR INFORMATION:
Visa Europe is the title sponsor of VIP Weekend.  Visa will be running an exciting promotion over the weekend where every time someone spends on their Visa card, credit or debit, they get a guaranteed reward. All they have to do is text the retailer's name of where their purchase was made along with the purchase amount and they'll receive a bounce back text telling them what their reward is. This could be anything from £1 up to a maximum of £1,000 and includes thousands of pairs of cinema tickets too. Additionally all entrants will go into a draw to win an all expenses paid trip to Sydney, Australia for two people for seven nights.