High Street (2)

A sustained second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic would deliver a “knockout punch” to the UK’s High Street, according to a new report.

The Global Property Development Trends report found that as much as 12 million m2 of retail space has been closed down since the start of the pandemic.

Between a collapse in sales and rising rent costs, non-food retailers are thought to have lost out on £9 billion worth of sales so far this year.

The report found that more than a third of landlords and developers have switched retail properties to other uses, while 57% are also considered a similar move.

Prof Joshua Bamfield, a director at the Centre for Retail Research, said: “There is no alternative to repurposing.

“As much as 10% of retail floor space might need to be repurposed in the short to medium term, but could be much higher in major cities eventually.”

The Centre for Retail Research has found that 13,867 shops have closed so far in 2020, a near 25% rise on 2019.

“Longstanding pressures faced by property owners and developers through declining retail rents and failures have now been exacerbated by the pandemic and its evolving impacts,” Scott Morey, executive director at Altus Group, said.

“However, the property industry is recognising opportunities that exist and will seek to repurpose assets during this period of uncertainty and well into the recovery stage.”

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