Will UK high streets transform? That’s the big question, amidst plunging footfall due to the “collapse of retail businesses.” According to think tank, Social Market Foundation (SMF), high street retail units could be converted for residential use, thereby creating 800,000 new homes
As more people spend at least a portion of the week working from home, a trend driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as consumers turn towards online shopping, footfall in high streets and town centres will decline. SMF feels the decline of traditional high street shopping in the UK is inevitable, and the focus should be on supporting new and more beneficial uses for town-centre sites than trying to slow the footfall decline.
So, will UK high streets transform? “Changing working and shopping patterns are set to drastically alter the nature of city and town centres as a result of COVID-19, with retail and office spaces becoming increasingly vacant…policymakers should act now and deploy radical new measures to stimulate new life in urban centres,” responds SMF research director, Scott Corfe.