Onerous restrictions on daily life during the pandemic has decimated London’s retail economy, reveals a fresh study released today.
The capital’s retailers lost nearly a year’s worth of sales during the pandemic, underlining the severe blow curbs on economic activity has delivered to London’s shops, pubs and restaurants, research carried out by the Centre for Cities, a think tank, has found.
The scale of lost income shops have booked since the start of the pandemic illustrates how difficult it is for high streets to survive amid swinging Covid-19 measures.
Andrew Carter, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, said: “The pandemic has been a tough time for all high streets [and] it has levelled down more prosperous cities and towns.”
Measures to quash the spread of Covid-19 stopped Londoners from heading to high streets, hitting retailers’ bottom lines.
Meanwhile, international travel restrictions caused the number of tourists visiting the capital to tumble. Foreign visitors typically generate a significant proportion of revenue for London’s shops.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, told City A.M.: “This report highlights what businesses on the high streets in large cities already know – Covid had been disastrous.”
The government needs to ramp up campaigning to get tourists back to the capital and encourage workers to flood back to the office to avoid “permanently levelling down prosperous places,” the Centre for Cities said.
The fresh study comes as large swathes of Britain’s retailers are in a fight for survival as a result forgoing Christmas revenue that often tips them into the black due to Britons being urged to slash socialising throughout most of December amid soaring Omicron cases.
Retail sales shrank 3.7 per cent last month, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A pouring out of city centres during the pandemic has resulted in a wave of insolvencies to sweep across the retail sector, hoisting the volume of disused storefronts in the capital.
Empty shops as a proportion of all central London storefronts climbed nearly four percentage points since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, according to the Centre for Cities.