On Monday there were power failures and considerable service disruption on the Victoria line. Worried about getting back to the Commons in time, I got out at Oxford Circus. It was 6.30pm. The pavements were so crowded I could not walk quickly or even go in the direction I wished to go in. There were thousands of shoppers out and about.
Someone drew up in a taxi at Hamleys, so I grabbed the taxi. The driver told me that business was good – strong positive words in answer to a question I often ask about how busy they are. He explained that most of the people he carries are foreign visitors.
It’s another part of the growing evidence that central London has detached from the rest of the UK economy. Large number of overseas visitors are swelling the retail sales. Large numbers of visitors are making longer term commitments, paying ever higher prices for flats and houses, and renting office space.
Whilst the typical UK High Street languishes, Oxford Street booms. Whilst provincial property markets wallow, with plenty of empty space and falling rents, central London space is filling up quickly and rents are rising. The devalution of the pound has stimulated central London. Financial and political troubles elsewhere in the world are also helping.