Following new research published by the High Streets Task Force ‘Review of High Street Footfall: July 2019- June 2020'. IPM Director Dr Steve Millington has been discussing the findings with the BBC on Radio 4’s You and Yours, BBC Breakfast and BBC News.
The key finding findings of the report showed from March 1 to June 30 2020, footfall in smaller district centres fell by 34.5%, compared to a drop of 75.9% in larger cities over the same period. Centre uses are changing, retail is no longer the dominant attraction for visitors to the high street, with many people choosing to stay and shop locally. Local centres are often ‘multifunctional’ and provide a wide range of services, a town type that has increased by 8% from July 2019-June 2020.
BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours focussed on the changing consumer behaviour we have witnessed over the past months, with people ‘rediscovering what’s on their doorstep’. The feature focussed commuter towns in Greater Manchester, with a café owner in Bury reporting far greater customer numbers than pre-lockdown.
With many people now working from home it has seen routines shift making local centres more accessible, Steve told BBC correspondent Sarah Corker:
“When commuters got home past 5 o’clock many shops on their high street were closed, now they have got that flexibility. They can go any time of the day, any day of the week, and they are finding that it’s got services and facilities that perhaps they didn’t expect.”
However, Steve added:
“The challenge is for those high streets is can they keep hold of that trade. They’ve got to keep reinventing themselves.”
The programme also mentioned with many workers not planning to return to the office in the near future it is making people re-assess where they want to live, as commute times are no longer a factor. Estate agents have seen increased demand for property in coastal and country areas as greater access to public and green space is becoming more desirable.
Click here to listen back to Steve on You and Yours and you can also watch the video segment shown on BBC Breakfast here. As well as making national news, the segment was repeated across the country on many of the BBC’s regional news networks. In addition, Steve was interviewed live on the BBC News channel on Saturday to discuss the research.