Three nights of rioting in London spread to Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham on Tuesday, leaving British retailers in fear of vandalism, looting and arson costs that could rise into tens of millions of pounds.
In Greater Manchester, rioters set the Miss Selfridge store in Market Street alight. Diesel, Foot Asylum, Marks & Spencer and Salford Shopping City—home to New Look and Peacocks—also came under attack by as many as 2,000 people.
700-800 rioters, many of them young, overran Birmingham’s main shopping district, smashing Adidas, A|X Armani Exchange and Pandora shop windows. Earlier in the week, rioters smashed windows on the city’s Louis Vuitton store; no looters gained entrance and no goods were stolen.
London remained quiet on Tuesday after three nights of unrest as 16,000 police officers patrolled the city streets. Stores across the city closed early and enacted precautionary measures. On Bond Street, Chanel boarded up its shop front, while exclusive jewellers and luxury stores removed stock from windows and stationed extra guards at entrances. Most stores vandalised elsewhere in the city, including Smythson, Kurt Geiger and H&M, whose Brixton and Wood Green stores were targeted on Monday night, have reopened.
‘Given the situation, the most important thing is the safety of our staff and our customers,’ H&M spokesperson Laura Maggs said. ‘Things are changing every day. We continue to monitor developments closely and take guidance from the local police and authorities.’
Debenhams’s Clapham store remained closed into Wednesday, as a police cordon is still in place and staff hasn’t had access to assess the damage. ‘Our priority is the safety of our staff. Thankfully no one was hurt,’ a representative said. ‘We are working with the police and at the moment that store remains closed.’
Representatives of the British Retail Consortium, an industry body representing about 90% of UK retailers, on Tuesday said that the stolen goods, lost business and property damage would cost ‘tens of millions of pounds.’ The group urged police to use robust tactics to protect vulnerable retailers.
‘Targeting local shops as an expression of anger and frustration is mindless. These criminal acts destroy community resources, hurting local businesses and threatening people's jobs,’ British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said in a statement.
‘As well as the immediate bills caused by damage and theft, there will be longer-term costs. Inevitably some businesses which have been attacked will never open their doors again.’
Meanwhile, many communities turned their attention to the aftermath. Twitter users rallied behind the #riotcleanup hashtag, coordinating cleanups in Battersea, Clapham and Croydon. The @riotcleanup Twitter account has nearly 90,000 followers.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson praised the ‘spirit of London’ as activists urged him to join the clean-up, and David Cameron promised that he would do ‘everything to restore order to the streets.’ So far, police have arrested 1,335 people.