Fascinating conversation with a client the other day who has a number of premises from where various products are distributed around London. By all accounts, pressure is being exerted by local councils, at the behest of the Olympic Delivery Authority, for certain businesses to close for the duration of the Olympics. Closures could go as far as business premises located in Croydon.
The reason, I am told, is that there are concerns amongst our elected leaders and the International Olympic Committee that the sight and sound of lorries on their delivery rounds will ruin the whole spectacle. What’s more, certain business premises will not just be required to close for the duration of the Olympics. Closures will include the weeks leading up to the opening ceremony and also the Paralympics totalling a cumulative eight weeks.
Much work is currently being done on how to cope with this thorny issue. Extended holidays are one option as is the altering of opening times so that branches will open through the night but close during the day. Apparently, it’s alright to wake up local residents at 3am for a delivery of plastic pipe, but god forbid a member of the IOC has to set their eyes on a man in overalls!
Personally, I’m still staggered that we are paying £20 billion to watch people go for a swim and throw a spear, but I know this is an unpopular argument in many quarters so I will just shut up!
What does concern me is the impact on the UK economy during this extravaganza. Concerns have already been voiced North of the Border that London will suck in all tourist expenditure across the UK during the summer. Americans who would normally go to Scotland for a few days will instead opt to stay in London. No doubt Alex Salmond, the canniest of UK politicians, will be able to use that one to his advantage (“they took our oil and now they’ve come back for our tourists”).
I read also that Andrew Lloyd Webber is warning that the West End theatres will be decimated due to the fact that nobody in their right mind will go near London for a relaxing weekend theatre break this summer.
When we signed up for this, I don’t remember Lord Coe, or anyone else for that matter, warning us of eight week business closures. If we carry on like this, the much touted ‘Olympic Premium’ will be severely diluted by an ‘Olympic Deficit’.
Roll on September 2012!