How is the High Street doing?
2020 has been a challenging year for many people and businesses across the District, with many having to diversify to a new way of life.
On 15th June 2020, many of the High Street stores were allowed to re-opened and with hairdressers and beauty establishments were able to open on 4th July 2020, the High Streets appears to be operating as businesses as usual, but what have been the effects?
Each year the Forest of Dean District Council (FoDDC) conducts a town centre audit of all four towns which looks at shop vacancies and footfall counts. During lockdown and as we have seen an ease in restrictions, the FoDDC continued to collate this information.
Over the 4 weeks of July 2020, footfall has fluctuated in many of the towns during the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday counts. This has made it difficult to spot any clear trends on a town by town basis. The introduction of compulsory face coverings only came in on 24th July and this safety measure has not yet had a positive effect on footfall in all the towns.
Compared to the 2019 baseline, footfall in all 4 towns is considerably lower following lockdown. Over the 4 week survey period the towns do appear to be slowly bouncing back, with Lydney and Newent getting back to the levels of on street activity recorded last year.
The District has seen a steady footfall count over the last 8 years. However, it is evident that Covid-19 has had a drastic effect on the High Street. Although most shops and services are now able to re-open, shoppers and visitors do not yet seem to have the confidence to return.
**The information indicates the breakdown of the average footfall counts for each recorded year. The 2020-2013 footfall counts were recorded on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The 2009 footfall counts were recorded on Monday and Saturday. The 2008 footfall counts were recorded on Wednesday and Saturday.
The FoDDC are currently looking at new innovative methods to monitor the footfall on a real time basis, to give a more accurate picture of how the towns are performing.
The full effects of Covid-19 on the High Street are not yet clear, the FoDDC and the FEP are continuing to monitor the situation, looking for opportunities to build it back better, support our local businesses and learn lessons on how we can create a more sustainable way of life.
Government is currently reporting £3 out of every £10 is being spent online, this is likely to increase as we head towards, Black Friday Deal, Prime Day and the Pre-Christmas trade.
The “stay safe, shop local” message should therefore continue to be promoted on the run up to Christmas and into the new year, to shout about the Forest towns being open for business.
Interested to see what FEP is already doing? Check out our blogs!