Retail Beyond Restrictions – H1 2021 trends from LDCDigital Manager
As we start to see a level of normality slowly returning to the retail and leisure market, we can begin to understand the true impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across 2020, the Local Data Company (LDC) tracked a record number of stores closing down. We recorded a net loss of 11,319 stores, mainly driven by a nose-dive in openings as retailers reassessed expansion plans among waves of restrictions attempting to suppress the spread of the virus.
Now, as we move through the second half of 2021, we can start to assess whether the market is entering into a ‘recovery phase’. Despite our latest BRC Vacancy Monitor showing that shop vacancy was at an all-time high of 14.5% at the end of H1 2021, there are signs that, whilst we are coming from a very challenged base, the velocity of the decline we were tracking across the worst of the pandemic is slowing.
While all would agree that the pandemic has brought about some of the fiercest challenges for the retail and leisure market, there have been some winners. Fast food delivery units achieved growth as the demand for food delivery skyrocketed. Unsurprisingly grocery and convenience stores also came out strong, boosted by being one of the few retail categories that were designated to be ‘essential’ by the government. The independent sector also performed better than multiples as consumers were inclined shop locally.
With such a rapidly changing landscape, how does one assess where the opportunities lie for those returning to expansion? At LDC, we operate a 200-strong team of field researchers who travel the country, collecting data on store opening and closure activity on a frequent basis. The scale of this operation has enabled us to track the trends taking place across the market as they’re happening.
Each year, we publish a half-year view of the GB market to assess how the trajectory is changing based on our real-time database of over 680k stores, covering every British high street, shopping centre and retail park. As a sneak preview, some of the key trends we are seeing come through in the data for H1 2021 so far include:
• A slowdown in the overall loss of stores compared to the same period in 2020
• Evidence of the challenges faced by some shopping centres, shopping centres generally proving to be the hardest hit of all location types
• Continued comparative resilience of the independent retail market
For those of you keen to understand where the market stands in this rapidly changing landscape, I would encourage you to join our upcoming retail and leisure summit webinar which will take place on the 16th September at 3pm. During the session we will share data on H1 2021 performance before welcoming panellists including Innesco’s very own Dan Innes as well as contributors from Weezy and KPMG.
You can register for the webinar via this link. We hope to see you there.
Lucy Stainton, Commercial Director, the Local Data Company