Date of release: Friday, August 17, 2012

Peter VlachosOnly one in five small businesses reports a positive outcome from the Olympic Games but visitors are so impressed they are likely to return according to new research from the University of Greenwich.

The findings will create a better understanding of whether public investment in mega-events like the Olympic Games are of benefit to small businesses or, if not, how future Olympic cities can learn from the London 2012 experience.

Preliminary findings from a study of over 200 businesses in Greenwich, Woolwich, Canary Wharf, the Isle of Dogs and Lewisham show that a key factor in the fall in trade is the disruption of normal trading patterns and footfall patterns. It is possible to be too close to the locations where spectators are focussed on getting to the event and leaving afterwards. According to the report a similar effect can be seen in the Olympic Park itself. At busy times cafés and shops along crowd entry routes are generally ignored.

Peter Vlachos, Head of the University’s London Centre for Event Management, says “The games have created new winners and losers. The Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford has gained but the West End and Greenwich town centre has lost out. Clearly there are many businesses whose expectations have not been met.”

More positively a survey of visitors carried out at the same time, in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, showed that visitors have been highly impressed by the quality of service, accessibility, transport, green spaces and security they experienced. Over three in four said that they are likely or very likely to return to London as a result their positive experience visiting London during the Olympic Games.

Peter Vlachos, Head of the University’s London Centre for Event Management, says: "This is fantastic news for London's attractions and businesses many of which have experienced a slump during the Games. It may take a while, but we expect that word of mouth marketing and increased future visits will have a positive impact in the longer term."

Jon Sibson, Dean of the Business School adds: “We have been working closely with the local business community for over three years in the run-up to the Games. This investigation is an example of the school’s commitment to undertaking research that is relevant to the real business world.”

The team conducted face to face interviews with over 200 businesses and over 350 overseas and UK visitors during London 2012.

Picture: Peter Vlachos, Head of the University of Greenwich’s London Centre for Event Management.

Story by Public Relations