In September 2019 Rowena Howie, owner of independent shop, Revival Retro was interviewed by Tom Edwards, reporter for BBC London, about the impact of Crossrail delays to shops and businesses in the West End..
Tom followed up the story on 8th November 2019 when it was confirmed Crossrail would not be fully open by 2020.
There are immense pressures on small businesses in central London. The increased costs are making it impossible to continue doing business in the West End; spiralling rents are in part due to the promise of greater amenities such as Crossrail and as rates hike for the same contributing reason the government has offered no London weighting for the rates relief that is intended to help small businesses throughout the land.
Relocating to Fitzrovia in 2014 Rowena was lured to the area for its broad leafy streets encouraging dwell time, the multiple easy access routes and the bigger footfall that the Elizabeth line promised it would bring to the area. Crossrail works, station closures, disrupted customer commutes and delays only serve to reduce footfall and decrease dwell time.
The uncertainty that Crossrail delays bring, just compounds the uncertainty over Brexit. It's making it harder for small businesses to survive in central London.
Rowena and staff strongly believe in a bricks and mortar offering yet external issues make it harder and harder for the business to continue to offer this point of difference. Loyal customers will continue to make the journey but the benefits that Crossrail promised are pushed further and further away putting a big question mark over the important role that independent shops and small businesses play in creating a rich, interesting and diverse shopping experience in London's West End.