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Bombings Hurt Retail, but Grocery Stores Step Up

LONDON -- Figures from Solution Product System, Ltd.'s (SPSL) Retail Traffic Index indicate that the morning rush-hour bombings here late last week have had a serious negative impact on retail, according to a published report.

The number of customers at stores located inside the London Congestion Zone (the area of the city with the highest traffic) was 77 percent lower on Thursday, July 7 than on the prior Thursday, June 30. SPSL attributed the dramatic fall-off to such factors as fear of more bombings, early closings by some retailers, lack of access because of closed roads, and a desire on the part of many to return to their homes as quickly as possible despite such difficulties as the suspension of public transportation.

Tim Denison, SPSL's director of knowledge management at SPSL, told British retail publication Checkout, "We expect the negative impact of the central London bombs to continue for some time, although the effect will reduce over the next few weeks."

He added that over the short term, shoppers would likely avoid trains and buses, busy areas, and well-known stores, and that in the medium term, there would probably be fewer overseas or out-of-town tourists visiting the city.

In further news, Checkout reported that Marks & Spencer's was one of several London retailers to provide emergency supplies after the blasts. The company's Edgeware Road location gave out food, beverages, and clothes to victims and emergency services personnel, as well as to a nearby church being used as an aid station. Marks & Spencer's Waterloo store also provided food and drinks to emergency workers.

Other Marks & Spencer's stores were forced to close temporarily because of their proximity to the bombings or because employees were unable to come to work.

Sainsbury's, which had to close two stores near bombed areas, said that its supply chain into London wasn't affected. The rest of the grocer's central London stores stayed open, and both closed stores reopened July 8.
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