UK high streets may never recover from Covid-19, ministers warn

UK consumer confidence rose for the sixth month in a row in July driven by the economy recovering much faster than initially expected.
The index is now 20 basis points higher than it was a year ago.
// Footfall across UK high streets may never recover to pre-pandemic levels, ministers warn
// Boris Johnson confirmed plans to lift restrictions on England’s “freedom day” on July 19

Ministers have warned that footfall across high streets in the UK may never reach pre-pandemic levels as Boris Johnson confirmed plans to lift restrictions in shops, restaurants and pubs on England’s “freedom day” on July 19.

Minister for regional growth and local government, Luke Hall, said Covid-19 had been the “largest, most synchronised shot to the economy, our social lives and the high street in living memory” and a full recovery could be impossible.

The BRC-LDC Vacancy Monitor found that more than one in seven shops were vacant across UK high streets by April.

READ MORE: UK retail profits to shrink by £8bn, new research says

“There has been a significant drop in footfall since the start of the pandemic and unfortunately a rise in vacancy rates,” Hall said.

“The reality is we don’t yet know if footfall will recover to pre-pandemic levels.

“There’s a number of factors which will affect and determine it, like the confidence to just go back and start shopping again on the high street and and changing working habits.”

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  1. The headline: “UK high streets may never recover from Covid-19, ministers warn”, is clearly drivel. Over what period of time are the ‘ministers’ projecting that the recovery will never happen? One year, two years, five years …..? It’s a bit like somebody in 1945 saying that London ‘s high streets will never recover to their pre-war level of activity, which was certainly not true, even 5 years after the end of WWII. I suggest that bombs being dropped on a high street is far more significant than the COVID epidemic.
    Either the ministers in question are really stupid (a distinct possibility ), can’t think beyond their own terms in office or this is just poor and unthinking journalism.
    Clearly it will take time for businesses to recover, and the high street won’t be exactly as it was pre-COVID, but that may be a good thing. We might see some new and innovative retailers appearing, rather than those that are/where stuck in the 19th century.

  2. I like your comment Christopher, particularly the comparison with the post war era.
    The High Street was never going to “recover” to how Ministers of any political persuasion envisage it, primarily because what it was before COVID was not what customers wanted any more, and hadn’t for a long time. Our MP’s tend to only go for a “photo opportunity” anyway, so have little knowledge gained from personal experience. But our customers are ‘suggestible”, and therefore we need to find, create, and BE those innovative retailers and wow our customers with something that they ( and maybe we) haven’t imagined yet.


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