Can high streets in Wales survive coronavirus?

The retail sector in Wales was already struggling before coronavirus hit. Vacant premises were on the increase and in February shopping centres saw the 15th consecutive month of falling sales.

Big name brands - Oasis, Warehouse and Debenhams then hit the headlines by announcing they’d been placed into administration.

And, according to a recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers, 43% of shoppers are today unhappy about shopping anywhere other than a supermarket.

So will our high streets survive?

Just four months ago, it was a time of celebration in the small valleys town of Treorchy. It had just been crowned the UK’s best High Street.

There are over 100 shops along its high street and many of them are independent.

But just as plans were being made to mark the big occasion, Storm Dennis hit and flood water deluged the streets.

And if that wasn’t enough - then the virus hit - and the busy streets - went from bustling to deserted overnight.

Head of the Chamber of Trade and pub landlord Adrian Emmett said: “We won the award through coming together as a community and that’s what we need to do now.

There is a massive concern. The uncertainty is the big one. When are we going to come out of this? Have they got enough money to see them through this period? And then when we do come out of this, how are they going to manage their business?

Adrian Emmett, Head of Treorchy's Chamber of Trade

His concerns are echoed by Hollie Thomas who runs No. 86 gift hamper shop.

She has only been open two years and has managed to move as much of her business on to social media as she can in a bid to survive.

She said: “You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. If the shop is going to open again? If your customers are even going to return.”

And it’s not just in the small towns where there are concerns. Cities, like Newport are also suffering.

Footfall is about 85 per cent down since lockdown and that’s pretty consistent with around the UK. I think we are moving now from that crisis situation into the pre-recovery planning.

Kevin Ward, manager of Newport Now Business Improvement District

But there are added concerns about the future of Debenhams. Located in Newport’s Friars Walk development, Debenhams was the cornerstone store.

It has been placed in administration and a spokesperson for the administrators FRP Advisory said the situation was unresolved.

But there are added concerns about the future of Debenhams. Located in Newport’s Friars Walk development, Debenhams was the cornerstone store.

It has been placed in administration and a spokesperson for the administrators FRP Advisory said the situation was unresolved.

Kevin Ward, who manages Newport's Business Improvement District, says losing Debenhams would be "a body blow" to the city.

You can find out more about this story on Wales This Week: Coronavirus - Our Changing Nation tonight at 7PM on ITV Cymru Wales.