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Retailers seek to reassure customers after latest UK attack

Retail and hospitality groups in the U.K. said June 5 they were consulting with law enforcement agencies following the terrorist attack in London as they sought to reassure customers they could continue to shop safely throughout the capital.

A group of assailants in a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge on the evening of June 3 before attacking others with knives in a crowded market nearby. Three attackers were shot dead within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services, the police said.

Jace Tyrell, CEO of New West End Co., a trade body representing retailers operating on Oxford, Bond and Regent streets, said the group's priority was "to ensure that the West End continues to provide not only an enjoyable shopping experience, but a safe one too for all visitors and shoppers."

"New West End Co. is working closely with the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, the Mayor of London and local resilience forums to provide advice and information to its members, including retailers and businesses throughout the West End," Tyrell said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Previous terrorist attacks in European cities have led to sharp declines in visitor numbers and have seen retail sales fall. There were 1.5 million fewer hotel visits in the Greater Paris region in 2016 compared with the previous year following a series of attacks, according to the Regional Tourism Committee.

A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium, or BRC, said the trade association — whose members, including supermarket chain Tesco Plc and department store group Debenhams PLC, account for 70% of the U.K.'s retail industry by revenue — was in "ongoing conversations about security matters with members and law enforcement."

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the terrible events in London on Saturday," the spokeswoman added. "The BRC will continue to act as a dissemination point for members as information from law enforcement becomes available."

The attack on London Bridges was the third major terrorist incident to hit the U.K. in as many months. A suicide bomber targeted a concert by pop singer Ariana Grande in Manchester on May 22. In March, a man driving a car fatally wounded four pedestrians near the U.K. Parliament before stabbing a police officer to death and being shot dead himself.

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association — whose members include several restaurants in Borough Market, where the second wave of the June 3 attack took place — said her thoughts were with the victims of the attack.

"The best response to their cowardly attack is for Londoners and visitors to continue life as normal, which includes visiting all that London has to offer in terms of bars, restaurants, hotels and attractions in what is one of the safest and best cities in the world," Ibrahim said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence.