The retail sector has been turned upside down by the pandemic, and as non-essential shops prepare to reopen after almost eight months of closing their doors, the retail landscape has been irrevocably changed.
Drapers Online has reported on how various regions have fared during the lockdown, with major hubs in cities falling behind smaller, more local retail centres when it comes to footfall and spending.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at Local Data Company (LDC), said: “People are staying and shopping local, and have been more nervous about heading into city centres”
“Market towns and local high streets have more essential retailing [such as medical and grocery outlets], which has allowed them to retain footfall.”
According to the LDC, overall retail and leisure vacancies increased by 0.1 per cent on average in villages throughout the pandemic, while city centres experienced a 2.9 per cent increase. Commuter town vacancies rose by 0.7 per cent and high streets with London postcodes by 1 per cent.
Data from Springboard also revealed that market towns had experienced a 36.6 per cent drop in footfall, compared with 58.7 per cent in central London year-on-year, as workers shifted to remote working.
According to the latest footfall analysis from Springboard, high streets had a 15.9 per cent week-on-week increase to 1 March 2021, while shopping centres saw a 6 per cent increase, and retail parks 5.9 per cent.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insight director, predicts a footfall boom when non-essential retail reopens, but it could fade over the summer as people turn to leisure and holiday spending.
“The question on everyone’s lips is whether the loyalty to small towns will remain,” she said.
“There will be a small drift back to the office but working from home will continue [for many people].”
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