All that gold, silver and bronze coursing through this Olympic city was supposed to equal the color of money for establishments like Tuttons, a popular restaurant in tourist-magnet Covent Garden. But with business down 40% from this time last year, the only color that manager Pedro Nunes is seeing is red.

"It's very frustrating. Normally we have a very good August crowd … but people have been put off by the supposed crowds and transport problems," Nunes said. "I can't wait for the Olympics to finish."

The 2012 Games are only a few days old, but complaints are already piling up over the absence, so far anyway, of the windfall that merchants in central London eagerly expected from hosting the world's biggest sporting extravaganza. Parts of the city usually jammed with summer visitors, such as the West End theater district, are strangely quiet, and department stores and major attractions are asking where all the customers are.