Shops and restaurants are hurting from a high street slump across almost every city and large town in the country – and there are fears the festive season could be the last straw for some.
According to the latest data from the Centre for Cities, the economic recovery stalled in September, when consumer spending in city and town centres fell by an average of 9%.
It’s hit some towns particularly hard; while Bournemouth had the biggest increase in visitors this summer, last month the amount of money spent there fell by 46%.
The south coast town and many other tourist spots including Blackpool, Brighton, York and Edinburgh, saw large drops in the numbers of visitors in September, raising concerns that their initial recovery from Covid-19 may have been short lived.
Centre for Cities’ High Streets Recovery Tracker recorded overall footfall in the centres of cities and large towns up by just 1% last month – 17% lower than the increase seen in July and August.
Land Commercial MD Adam Diamant says the retail sector has been helped by the Government’s recent changes to the use classes system which means buildings can now become restaurants, retail or offices without applying for planning permission.
“Shops can be used for a much wider variety of uses, changing from a betting shop to a restaurant or doctor’s surgery, and retail has been quite busy for us,” he tells LandlordZONE.
One highlight from the survey is the fact that there’s little indication that the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants has had an effect on footfall, which overall hasn’t fallen as a result of the measures.
However, Diamant worries about the impact of the next few months on the sector.
He says: “If we can’t have a ‘normal’ Christmas in terms of hospitality and retail – with no office parties for example – that will be the real killer to a lot of businesses. I think it will hit people a lot harder than the loss of the summer.”