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Early switch-on as Oxford Street Xmas ‘shines a light’ on virus heroes

Christmas display will feature poem tribute to frontline workers on ‘light curtains’

26 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot

IT’S beginning to look a lot like… lockdown.

Nevertheless Oxford Street will soon be festooned in Christmas cheer with plans to switch on its famous festive lights early in a bid to coax shoppers back to the West End.

This year’s light shows include a poem, created in partnership with Selfridges, which pays tribute to the community heroes who have come together during the pandemic. The poem will be displayed across “light curtains” and the display is made up of 220,000 energy efficient LEDs.

For the first time there will be no switch-on event but the lights are due to be turned on on November 2, “to give visitors even more time to make the most of the festive season”.

Meave Wall, a director at Selfridges, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Oxford Street to share our poem on the iconic Christmas lights this year. We’re so excited to welcome visitors from London and beyond to the street to celebrate the festive season, and bring them the Christmas magic that 2020 is calling for.”

Footfall in Oxford Street remains far lower than near pre-Covid levels with the Mayor of London saying the West End is facing an “existential crisis” in the coming months.

Shoppers are encouraged to return for Christmas to enjoy a “safe experience as brands across the destination put heightened hygiene measures in place”, including queueing measures and capacity limits. Stores have social distancing measures and hand sanitiser dispensers are at every entry point.

Luciana Magliocco, associate director at New West End Company, which represents big business in the West End, said: “This year, we are delighted to have worked in partnership with Selfridges to create a very special seasonal display that plays tribute to our great city but also shines the light on heroes up and down the country. We look forward to welcoming Londoners and visitors to Oxford Street to enjoy our Christmas lights, magical window displays, and extensive festive offering, in a safe and comfortable environment.”

It has been estimated that 50,000 jobs could be lost in the West End if the crisis continues into next year.

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