Data: The 10 cities that lost the most sales since Covid hit

London was hit the hardest in terms of sales lost during Covid-19
London was hit the hardest in terms of sales lost during Covid-19
// London has lost the most sales since Covid hit, with 47 weeks’ worth of revenue lost in retail and hospitality between March 2020 and November 2021
// Big cities such as Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff were also hard hit, while smaller cities fared better with Burnley losing just 8 weeks worth of sales

London lost almost a year’s worth of retail sales since Covid began with big cities particularly hit by lockdowns, home working and a lack of tourists.

The capital suffered the most with 47 weeks’ worth of sales lost in in-person retail and hospitality between March 2020 and November 2021, compared with the 2019 levels.

wdt_ID Rank Place Weeks of lost sales
1 1 London 47
2 2 Birmingham 46
3 3 Edinburgh 43
4 4 Cardiff 43
5 5 Glasgow 42
6 6 Manchester 41
7 7 Oxford 41
8 8 Coventry 41
9 9 Nottingham 40
10 10 Leeds 39

The Centre for Cities said Covid-19 had “levelled down” what were historically the UK’s most prosperous high streets.

Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff suffered similar levels of sales declines over the period, according to the thinktank’s Cities Outlook 2022  that was compiled using anonymous card transactions.


READ MORE: Data: The 10 cities that suffered the most retail insolvencies since Covid-19


By comparison, towns and smaller cities recorded lower falls in retail and hospitality sales, with the Burnley losing the fewest sales of just eight weeks worth.

Warrington, Huddersfield and Blackpool also lost relatively few sales compared to 2019.

wdt_ID Rank Place Weeks of lost sales
1 1 Burnley 8
2 2 Warrington 11
3 3 Huddersfield 12
4 4 Blackburn 12
5 5 Northampton 12
6 6 Mansfield 13
7 7 Wakefield 13
8 8 Barnsley 14
9 9 Birkenhead 15
10 10 Blackpool 16

The study, which focused on 52 city and town centres, showed a sharp increase in the number of vacant commercial units, with an increase of 1,374 to 2,426 between 2018 to 2020.

High streets in economically weaker places also fared better in terms of vacancy rates than bigger city centre locations, as they were propped up by the emergency economic support provided by the government during lockdowns.

Despite this trend, the Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter believes larger cities are better placed to recover swiftly post-Covid.

He said: “The bigger concern is for economically weaker places – primarily in the North and Midlands – where Covid-19 has actually paused their long-term decline.

“To help them avoid a wave of high street closures this year the Government must set out how it plans to increase peoples’ skills and pay to give them the income needed to sustain a thriving high street. Many of these places are in the so-called Red Wall so there is a political imperative for the Government to act fast, as well as an economic one.”

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