Businesses have started to assess the devastating impact of the violence which erupted near Clapham Junction station last night.

In addition to millions of pounds worth of loss from arson, the destruction of shopfronts and all the looted goods, many shops in Battersea have been sealed off behind a police cordon while they conduct forensic tests and emergency services carry out essential repair work.

Shopping centres across the borough also closed early amid fears of more copycat looting and violence.

This morning, in a show of solidarity, dozens of people turned out to help with the clean-up in Battersea of St John's Road and surrounding streets.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was heckled by members of the public when he visited the area this afternoon despite apologising for the "loss and damage [people] have suffered".

Debenhams department store was vandalised by looters. A spokeswoman confirmed the "store was affected" and said it would remain closed while bosses help police with their investigation.

She refused to estimate how much the damage would cost to repair.

Dozens of other shops were looted with many more having their windows smashed. Most were in Battersea but several were attacked in Balham High Street and two in Tooting on the previous evening.

Chris Wyatt, chairman of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, said the disorder would have a devastating effect, adding he hoped businesses affected would be supported by the Government.

He said: "I think generally everyone is a bit shell-shocked.

"It's a phenomenon I've never seen before. It's so unfair for businesses at a time when they don't need it."

Battersea MP, Jane Ellison, said she thought the damage was "localised" to shops selling high-value goods.

Peter Pledger, chief executive of South London Business, who pledged to provide as much assistance as possible to affected businesses, said: "The businesses that have been attacked are key components of the local community; employing staff, paying wages and providing services to local residents.

"This senseless destruction harms the local community, businesses and residents alike."

Lavender Hill resident Heather Taylor sent out a message on Twitter encouraging volunteers to help clean-up the mess caused while watching news reports of the chaos overnight.

The 33-year-old said: "I was watching and saw everything going on. I sent a tweet out at 1am to get everyone to meet at 9am at Nandos to help clean up.

"If you can get more people to clean up than those that caused it then it's a win for the community. It shows we are not afraid."

A 19-year-old student, who turned up with about 200 other people to help, said: "I want to show that there are some good youths out there that give a damn."

Wandsworth Council led the clean-up operation, sending dozens of staff to the area to help.

Council leader, Councillor Ravi Govindia, said: "Local people are determined that they will not be cowed by the thugs and hooligans who caused this damage last night.

They are determined to work with us to get life back to normal as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their efforts."

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