Carboot Circus, barely 2½ weeks old, is about to face a newer, bigger more avaricious competitor. At the end of this month the Westfield Centre in west London opens and is set to put poor little Carboot Circus firmly in the shade. It's everything that Carboot Circus is, but much more so. Westfield Centre has 1.6 million square feet of space, 260 stores, 50 restaurants, a 13 screen cinema, parking for 4,500 cars, several new tube, rail and bus stations (60% of visitors are expected to use public transport) and is costing £1.6 billion to build.
Westfield is aiming for exactly the same market as Carboot Circus, with 'anchor' stores including House of Fraser, Marks & Spencers, Debenhams, Next and Waitrose, plus a range of prestigious high-end names like Louis Vuitton in its exclusive 'Village' area (definitely no peasants). It also has a wavy roof of glass panels, multi-levels and proper hanging gardens, but that much more impressive in scale. If you believe such nonsence, it will create 7,000 new jobs (or rather transfer them from other ares, including no doubt a few from Carboot Circus).
Carboot Circus made much of their catchment area extending to areas like Swindon and the Cotswolds, but for such areas west London is only a little further and public transport connections are that much better. So many shoppers, particularly the high spenders for whom train fares are small beer, may look disdainfully at Westfield's poor imitation in Bristol. Carboot Circus' brief reign as having a unique style is already coming to an end.
Meanwhile Carboot Circus suffered another mishap on Sunday evening when a power cut halted the showing of films at the Showcase Cinema, forcing hundreds of customers to be ushered out. Another example of over hasty construction leading to faults?