High street needs to work closer with Jersey's government to recover from pandemic

The report says high street businesses will need to adapt to the pressing popularity of online shopping. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Jersey's high street needs to work closer with the government if it is to recover from the pandemic.

That is according to a new report, looking at ways to increase footfall in town.

The Interim Retail Strategy says recovery is slow, with many office workers still based at home for several days a week.

It has found that a rise in online sales after lockdown has continued to depress the high street, with more people working from home able to receive deliveries at home. One other example showing fewer people in town is the increased car and motorcycle spaces compared to 2019.

To try and bring more shoppers back into St Helier, the report says there needs to be a better collation of data to understand what people use the high street for. It says it is expecting the Economic Development Minister to call for increased flexibility from the retail sector, within the interim review of the Island Plan.

It also says high street businesses will need to adapt to the pressing popularity of online shopping. It says extra funding is needed so shops can increase their own digital presence to compete with other retailers.

That is something the head of the island's Chamber of Commerce says has been accelerated by coronavirus.

The pandemic has forced change in customers' shopping habits, with the majority of retailers embracing this when previously they may have been reticent to do so. Now it is time to look at how we can support a little more balance between online and bricks and mortar - driving our island retail economy in a way that customers want and feel they can support.

Jennifer Carnegie, President of Jersey's Chamber of Commerce

The report says smaller and medium-sized businesses can be expected to call on Jersey Business for support through this transitional period.

In January 2020, King Street's footfall camera showed on average there were 135,000 visits per week. However in April and early May, while the island was in its first lockdown, visits went down to 40,000 visits a week.

By August when social distancing measures were introduced, footfall increased to 60,000 people a week.

The report shows that as of June 2020, 1,980 people were out of work which was over 1,100 more islanders than during the same time in the previous year.

It says this will have also contributed to further downward pressure on consumer spending in St Helier and across the island.