Come the end of July, the world’s flagship sporting event will head to the English capital. For 15 years, the Government, the British Olympic Association and the general public have been preparing for the global event, but its influence affects industries far beyond its sporting standpoint.
Right in the heart of Stratford’s Olympic village sits the Westfield shopping centre, and it is here where the hub of all retail will take place, not only during the Games, but far beyond the legacy that London 2012 will leave.
What can the British public and vast amounts of tourists expect when they enter the flagship mall though? Floor by floor, this is not a case of a quick browse in the morning and on to a restaurant for lunch. This is a day out, so if you do visit during the Olympic period, you may want to pick a day when the sports you are less interested in come to the fore.
Starting at the bottom, the lower ground floor features some of your more niche stores, and industry specific shops. Throughout the whole building, the world’s top brands are represented, and down in the basement, the ‘IT crowd’ will enjoy the selection of electrical goods. The likes of Vodafone, Currys and Virgin have set up camp down there, and there are still places in the doldrums for struggling franchises too. GAME and Clinton Cards will especially be thankful for a space in the Olympic shopping village.
Up the escalator and on to the ground floor, you will find a diverse mixture of exclusive, more expensive items, mixed in with the quirky and fun. Following some hardcore spending in Tag Heur, Pandora or John Lewis, you may fancy a chill in the Disney Store or official GB Olympics and Paralympics store.
Of course, a major part of most people’s shopping trips includes the search for clothes. The first floor pulls out all the stops in this genre, whether you are looking for a Hollister, Dorothy Perkins, Sports Direct or a Gap.
If there is somehow any cash left in the wallet, and energy left in the bag-carrying arms, then perhaps a bowling ball would not make too much difference at that point. The second floor houses All Star Lanes for the active consumers, next to Vue cinema for the exhausted shoppers. Alternately, for the visitors with plenty of money left over, the third floor Aspers Casino may be the final port of call.
Regardless of your tastes and preferences, Westfield really does cater for all retailing needs. Admittedly, it cannot compete with Beijing on a historical or artistic level, but what it loses in poignancy, it certainly makes up for in pulling power, grandeur, size and ultimately, coolness.