On Saturday 2 December, London’s West End - which attracts 40 million shoppers over the festive period - will be traffic-free for the first time ever for just one day. Dubbed Shop West End VIP Day, standing for Very Important Pedestrians, shoppers can expect to receive the red carpet treatment from many of the West End’s 600 shops along the two traffic-free streets - Oxford Street and Regent Street, with late night shopping at most stores until 9pm.
New West End Company, organisers of the traffic-free day, expects it will attract record visitor numbers to London’s West End for this day alone, with shoppers taking advantage of the ultimate Christmas shopping experience: no traffic, fabulous shops, a hundred free Christmas shows and musical performances staged throughout the day, as well as complimentary champagne galore for guaranteed festive cheer!
In keeping with the Shop West End VIP theme, West End shops such as GAP, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Penhaligons and John Lewis will be giving shoppers the Red Carpet Treatment with power pampering sessions, free manicures, foot and neck massages and beauty makeovers, (guys should head to Burton’s for free deluxe shaves), as well as style advice from celebrity designers and stylists such as Mark Heyes (GMTV Style Guru) at GAP and designers to the stars, Pearce Fionda at Debenhams. For a different type of advice, the Christmas “Sexperts” at Ann Summers will also be out in force.
To keep shoppers going, absolutely fabulous festive feasts and fizz will be bountiful, with shops such as Levi’s and Aquascutum, amongst others, giving away free champagne and shops such as Austin Reed, Evans, Gerry Weber, Godiva, Mamas and Papas, Ted Baker and Wallis amongst others, offering a complimentary season menu of mulled wine, gluwein, eggnog, mince pies, gingerbread cookies and toasted chestnuts and almonds, canapés.
The traffic-free street event, which runs from 11am to 4pm, with shops open until 9pm, will see the streets and shops come alive with Christmas entertainment - Santa and his six reindeer will open the day’s proceedings outside Selfridges and more of the herd will making a personal appearance outside Austin Reed, with two reindeer all the way from Lapland there to make the day the most memorable Christmas shopping day in the West End ever. Comic, musical and theatrical performances and street entertainment will take place throughout the day.
Tracey Mann, Selfridges Store Director, said: “We are delighted that shoppers will have the chance to experience a traffic-free, hassle-free Oxford Street. The Very Important Pedestrians' Day is a brilliant way to showcase what Oxford Street retailers have to offer – what a fabulous opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping!”
Nick Mather, Chief Executive Officer of Hamleys, said: "Hamleys is very excited about the VIP day. It’s an excellent opportunity for shoppers to enjoy West End shopping with much more space and lots of extra things to see and do. This is the largest shopping area ever to be closed to traffic for a day, and it promises to be a vibrant and engaging way to do Christmas shopping. "
Noel Saunders, Managing Director of John Lewis Oxford Street, said: "We will be fully embracing the opportunity for our customers to relish traffic free shopping when they come to John Lewis, our flagship store. It's a chance for visitors to appreciate everything the West End has on offer and going on previous events, will be a great success."
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: “London needs the West End as the world’s greatest shopping destination – it is a magnet for visitors from outside the capital and abroad. London’s biggest ever traffic-free event on December 2nd follows the huge success of last year's smaller event on Oxford Street - when over half a million people enjoyed a great day out.
“The event sits alongside the ongoing improvement of London’s most famous shopping streets by the New West End Company, landowners, and retailers. It is a recognition that the West End is, more than ever before, promoting London on both a national and a world scale – from last year's successful Christmas Treat, January’s Chinese lanterns on Oxford Circus, to September’s Spanish themed Regent Street Festival.
“This is even more important as London builds towards the 2012 Olympics which will see the people from all over the world coming to, and shopping in, the Capital.”
James Bidwell, Chief Executive, Visit London, said: “Shop West End VIP Day will offer shoppers an amazing day out. It’s a great way to promote the West End, which is a huge draw for visitors from the UK and overseas at any time of year, especially in the run up to Christmas.”
Sir Simon Milton, Leader of Westminster City Council, said: "The VIP Day is a great opportunity for visitors to take advantage of the best the West End has to offer and indulge themselves in a full day out. The range of designer shops, department stores and specialist outlets is unequalled in the rest of the country. It also boasts a dizzying array of cuisine, a great selection of bars and the best theatre in the world, so there's plenty for shoppers to enjoy."
Gary Reeves, Chief Executive of New West End Company, said: “We are delighted to stage a West End retail showcase and be part of Visit London’s campaign to attract shoppers to the Capital at Christmas. It is important that all organisations concerned with the West End’s future work together to ensure we remain the UK’s premier shopping and leisure destination.”
Full details of the plans for Shop West End VIP Day, including designer discounts and complimentary goody bags, must-see street entertainment and special events hosted by many of the West End’s 600 shops, can be find on http://www.newestend.com/vip
Look out for the West End Red Caps, the meeters and greeters of the area who are on hand to give advice to visitors on shop locations, directions and tips where to eat and drink.
Date: Saturday 2 December 2006
Time: 11am – 4pm Shops Open until 9pm!
Ph: +44 207 462 0689
Oxford Street and Regent Street will be closed to traffic from 10.30am until 5pm from Portman Street to Rathbone Place on Oxford Street and Margaret Street to Piccadilly Circus on Regent Street. There will be stewarded crossing within the traffic-free area.
For travel information and alternative routes please telephone Transport for London on 020 7222 1234 or visit www.tfl.gov.uk
The event is supported by the West End’s retailers, Visit London, Mayor of London, Westminster City Council, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.
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