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London businesses tally up sales after Olympics

A woman inspects souvenirs at a gift shop in central London on July 25, 2012, two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Jeremy Hobson: So the official price tag for the London Olympics is about $15 billion. And while some tally up the benefits, some small business owners in London are seeing red.

Christopher Werth reports.


Christopher Werth: Lambert Souvenirs is exactly the kind of business you'd expect to benefit from the Olympics. A shot put throw from the Houses of Parliament, it sells all the memorabilia a tourist could ever ask for.

Fre Dereje: T-shirts, sweatshirts, key rings, magnets.

Fre Dereje works here. In the run up to the Games, she says the store stocked up on merchandise expecting a flood of visitors, which it now regrets.

Dereje: We're not selling anything. We're not selling our souvenirs. Everybody is complaining that business is down 55 to 60 percent because no customers were coming.

Complaints like hers can be heard all over London. It seems high hotel prices and the hassle of the Olympics have scared off many of the normal non-Olympic visitors.

Mary Rance is the head of U.K. Inbound, a trade association for the tourism industry. She says August is usually a peak month for tourism in London. But close to 90 percent of tourism-related businesses are reporting losses to do lower than expected visitor numbers during the Games.

Mary Rance: And obviously as the number of visitors are down, obviously it means the bookings at hotels are down, the visits to attractions are down. So it has a sort of spiraling effect.

Spiraling all the way down to the little guy on the street.

Arben Lleshi: It's been a great Olympic for Britain, but not for us.

Arben Lleshi draws portraits and caricatures on this sidewalk in London's West End shopping district. He says he'd usually have about 10 to 15 customers a day. But this summer, he's had days when no one stops.

Lleshi: I know what the business is like in the summer here, and if I look at my books and compare it to the previous summer, it's been completely 70 percent off.

He says he's got just a few more weeks before the summer season ends, but he doesn't think he can earn enough to make up the difference by then.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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