// England and Wales lost the equivalent of 42 football pitches in retail space in the past year
// Report suggests government’s moratorium on evictions could be delaying more losses still to come
Coronavirus lockdowns have accelerated the loss of retail space in England and Wales in the past year, according to new research by property law firm Boodle Hatfield.
Around 300,000 square metres, the equivalent of 42 football pitches, have been lost in the past twelve months, with coronavirus lockdown measures spurring on vacancies.
Boodle Hatfield warned that the current moratorium on evictions could be disguising the true impact of the pandemic on the retail sector and once this is lifted even more retail space is likely to be taken permanently out of use.
Manchester lost the largest amount of retail space, followed by Kingston upon Hull, Coventry, Sheffield and Peterborough, the report said.
“The retail landscape is continuing to contract with more and more space being taken out of use. The more severe the lockdown rules the faster this decline,” Boodle Hatfield head of property Simon Williams said.
“Should the moratorium on evictions be lifted at the start of 2021, many retailers will be in an extremely vulnerable position, particularly if coronavirus restrictions keep Christmas shoppers away.
“City centres have struggled to recover as people choose to shop locally or online. Should this trend continue, we could see vast swathes of prime retail space taken out of use,” Williams added.
“The question for the Government and local authorities is how much they invest in stemming this decline versus allowing more change of use from retail to residential.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation today on further local lockdown measures that will see classify regions as being at a “medium”, “high” or “very high” level of alert.