The Retailer Spring Edition 2022

SPR I NG 202 2

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retail-and-leisure-analysis-fy-2021.” ‘‘

The full FY 2021 report is available free of charge at https:/

The impact of home working

by continuing redevelopment and repurpos ing activity. Recent pressures caused by the Omicron variant and changes to government support packages for the sector may not have as profound an effect as one might think: two years of living with COVID-19 has allowed retailers time to negotiate, restructure and adapt. The 2021 data strongly suggests that, although we are not truly ‘post-pandemic’ yet, the worst effects of the pandemic are over for the retail market at large.

Recovery in the leisure sector The leisure sectorwas particularly impacted by the pandemic; restrictions on table sizes, social distancing measures, cancelled events and reduced international tourism further increased the pressure. However, the sector rebounded strongly in 2021. Leisure in GB saw a net loss of only 52 units, the best this figure has been since 2016. The change was led by growth in the fast food takeaway, independent café and restaurants & bar categories. Independent cafés in particular benefited from the closures of national chain coffee shop sites in prime locations, reducing local market saturation and creating openings for new businesses. Hospitality businesseswere able to trade during the lockdown in 2021 and many had already invested in their takeaway and delivery offer to strengthen sales and help themweather the effects of the pandemic.

Although manyworkers returned to the office after over a year of working from home, many others did not, and hybrid working patterns have proven popular at some companies. This significantly impacted city centres— vacancy rates for these locations ended up at 17.1%, an increase of 3.5% on 2019 levels. Vacancy rates across Britain’s biggest working districts increased by 4.6% fromMarch 2020. As home working continues, so will reduced levels of footfall across these spaces. Many takeaway food shops, banks and coffee shops have alreadymoved away from these areas, although this presents opportunities for brands that currently have limited exposure in this market, with an influx of prime vacant space available for those able to capture the remaining crowd. We don’t expect a full return to pre-pandemic levels of performance yet, but we forecast a continued decline in vacancy rate supported

Sarah Abu-Amero

market at large.” ‘‘

The 2021 data strongly suggests that… the worst effects of the pandemic are over for the retail

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