The effect of the pandemic on the retail industry has been a concern since the UK left lockdown, particularly the high street sector which saw one in seven shops empty earlier this year.
We sat down with Duncan Kite, Richard Allen, Mark Harvey, Matt Illingworth and Ruth McFetridge at Completely Retail Marketplace 2022 to discuss how the high street market has recovered since the pandemic, how they are facing current challenges and the best way to overcome them.
Speaking on the high street recovery, Mark Harvey, director of asset management at RivingtonHark, said: “I think the high street, town centres and city centres generally have had a bit of a mixed picture because the pandemic has changed the working pattern, so some town centres have recovered quicker and better than others.”
Harvey noted that the centres who have worked hard to promote activities and localism, giving consumers a reason to return, have bounced back quicker.
Richard Allen, head of retail at Get Living, had a different story. He explained that Get Living manages mixed use developments where residents live, work and shop in the same area, which proved to be a more resilient model during the pandemic.
“We have our own unique experience in terms of the recovery. Our retail and operational neighbourhoods include a lot of independent local retailers that fit the requirements of our residents and we’ve looked after those very well during that period of time. I think it’s that support that meant that we lost very few of our retailers during the pandemic.”
Landlords involved in more traditional high street retail, have had to adapt to the changing requirements and growing concerns from their occupiers as Duncan Kite, director at GCW highlighted: “Every landlord acknowledges that the world has profoundly changed in the context of retail and town centres. Even those who invest in or own very robust assets are still having to listen to the occupiers who have changing requirements. Everything has become much more short term, much more flexible. The more progressive landlords are getting their heads around being flexible and accommodating, and that’s the way to preserve their investments.”