Pandemic cost many places in the East more than half a year’s worth of high street sales

Cambridge was the worst hit in the East of England for sales Credit: ITV News Anglia

Cambridge has seen the worst high street sales figures across the East of England during the pandemic according to a new report. 

The Centre for Cities say businesses lost more than sixth months of potential revenue. 

Cambridge city centre is worst affected, losing 36 weeks of sales between the first lockdown and Omicron’s onset. Lost sales also led to an increase in businesses closing. In the city centre the number of empty storefronts increased by around 3.8 percentage points as sales fell.

So where have city and town centre businesses lost the most potential sales during the pandemic?

Ranking in the East

  • 1st Cambridge (17th nationally)

  • 2nd Norwich (21st nationally)

  • 3rd Peterborough (24th nationally)

  • 4th Ipswich (26th nationally)

  • 5th Southend (37th nationally)

  • 6th Luton (39th nationally)

  • 7th Basildon (49th nationally)

Norwich came in as the second worst performing in the East losing 33 weeks of sales Credit: ITV News Anglia

Nationally, Covid-19 has cost businesses in city and large town centres more than a third (35%) of their potential takings since March 2020, with central London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff worst affected. Across the 52 city and town centres studied, 2426 commercial units have become vacant during the pandemic, against 1374 between 2018 and 2020.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said:

“While the pandemic has been a tough time for all high streets it has levelled down more prosperous cities and towns in the East of England. Despite this, the strength of their wider local economies means they are well placed to recover quickly from the past two years.”

“The bigger concern is for economically weaker places – where Covid-19 has actually paused their long-term decline. To help them avoid a wave of high street closures this year the Government must set out how it plans to increase peoples’ skills and pay to give them the income needed to sustain a thriving high street."