Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Traders rail at flagship Olympics complex

A £1.4billion Westfield shopping centre that will form a gateway to the London Olympics has left local businesses fighting for survival, traders say.

When Westfield, owners of Belfast's Castlecourt, opened the Stratfrod City complex in east London in September, 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% 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% around Christmas - but this year it declined by 40%.

"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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