Thursday, May 19, 2022
BusinessCovid cost Scotland more than half a years’ worth of high street...

Covid cost Scotland more than half a years’ worth of high street sales

NEW research has revealed that the pandemic has cost Scotland more than half a years’ worth of high street sales.

The Centre for Cities report, The Cities Outlook 2022, gives an annual economic assessment of the UK’s largest urban areas.

It revealed that Edinburgh’s businesses were hit the worst, losing 43 weeks of sales.

Photo by Artem Gavrysh on Unsplash

Businesses in Glasgow and Aberdeen city centres were also hit hard losing 42 and 39 weeks of sales respectively, Dundee’s city centre lost the fewest weeks of sales at 32.

Out of the 52 city and town centres studied 2426 commercial units have become vacant during the pandemic compared to the 1374 between 2018 and 2020.

Since march 2020 Covid cost UK businesses in cities and large town centres 35% of their potential earnings.

Surprisingly business closures due to the pandemic were worse in economically stronger areas than in economically weaker areas.

This suggests that Government Covid-19 support successfully slowed the decline of many struggling high streets but was less effective in economically stronger places.

This was due to higher rents and a lack of custom from office workers in economically stronger areas such as London.

However, while more affluent areas have been hit the hardest, they will be more likely to make a fast recovery due to their economically strong locations.

And while Government support has helped business in less affluent areas the report warns it may have just stored up pain for the future.

The report predicts many less affluent places in Scotland face a new wave of closures this year.

The Centre for Cities is asking policy makers to run campaigns to encourage leisure visitors back when it is safe to do so and provide part time season tickets to encourage workers back to the office.

They are also asking that policy makers focus on fundamental economic problems to address high street decline in less affluent areas.

This includes investing in skills and ways to strengthen the wider local economy to increase the money in shopper’s pockets rather than ‘quick fixes’ like hanging baskets and painting shop fronts.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, 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.

“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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