How is our high street set to look post Covid?

Over the past nine months, we’ve talked a lot about what the pandemic has done for the fashion industry, sadly losing many jobs and stores. The switch to online shopping has resulted in a greater demand than ever, especially due to the second lockdown in November, the busiest shopping time of the year. Whilst online custom has increased for many brands, the loss of footfall in physical stores, and the cost that brings has meant that sadly, in some cases, it’s not been enough to save some of our favourite brands.

Last week, the whole country was shocked to hear the news that Arcadia was going into administration. With this, around 13,000 jobs are at risk, as well as the great loss of some of the high street’s most popular brands – Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Burton and more, not just in head office, but at store level too. Customers who have received gift cards for store credit have also been left at a loss, with only 50% of their value being eligible to be used in store.

If this wasn’t sad enough, just 24 hours after the Arcadia news broke, it was revealed that investors had pulled out of Debenhams rescue talks (Debenhams has Arcadia concessions in their shops), resulting in the permanent closure of one of the UK’s most famous department stores, and leaving a gap in many high streets around the country. This affects another 12,000 jobs in-store and in an already heavily reduced head office – set to shut by March. However, after JD Sports dropped out last week, owner of Sports Direct and Frasers Group Mike Ashley has now confirmed that he is working on a potential last-minute rescue, after he was initially rejected for an offer to take over Debenhams at a much smaller scale. Could this keep the Debenhams name relevant?

It’s been over a week since lockdown ended, and as Primark is open for 24 hours on some sites, as well as extended opening hours for other stores in order to make up funds, footfall on the high streets was still 30% lower this weekend than it was this time in 2019. Due to Tier 3 restrictions, restaurants being shut in many cities in the North will no doubt have affected footfall, how can people spend a day shopping if they’re unable to stop for some food? 

As we approach Christmas and Boxing Day Sales, it has to be said that the high street is a different place than it was in March. Now there’s a Covid vaccine in place we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully some sense of normalcy over the years to come – however that may look.