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Mr. Harris runs a gift-card shop in another shopping mall just yards across the road from the Westfield stores. His mall could do with a makeover, but many of the shops are small businesses owned and frequented by local residents.

The opening of Westfield, combined with the recession, has pushed down many stores’ sales by as much as 40 percent, said Mr. Harris, who has managed the business for nearly 25 years. At the same time, the local council, which owns the mall, has increased rents by 30 percent.

Shopkeepers fear business will drop further during the Olympics, as train passengers are whisked through the new mall and the predicted traffic chaos could keep customers away from their stores.

“The Olympics will be good for the area with the regeneration, but they will be terrible for business,” Mr. Harris said. “If there is no pickup in trade over the Olympics, I will probably have to close down.”

Don’t blame Westfield

Some say the Olympics cannot be blamed because Westfield would have been built anyway and the trend away from smaller shops to megamalls is global.

“In economic terms, … it is no more appropriate to blame [the Olympics] for economic woes than it is to give it credit for economic positives,” said Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sports management.

“What it will do is change the character of the area. Property prices will rise. Richer people will move in, and poorer people will move out.”

Closure of these small businesses also will contribute to the changing character of the area, which some locals say still has a real sense of community.

While locals tend their window boxes and prepare to cheer on athletes in the shiny new stadium this summer, hoping for a better day for the neighborhood, others doubt the Olympics will help much.

“So many businesses are winding up,” said Asger Ali, 62, who has owned a pharmacy for decades, adding that he was initially happy about London’s successful Olympic Games bid.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to survive much longer.”