Analysis: Let’s be honest, has Covid killed the shop?

Westfield Stratford

Over the past week three big stores based retailers - Debenhams, Arcadia and Bonmarche - have all gone bust.  Although unsustainable stores were only part of the problem for these long-term struggling businesses, they contributed to their demise. 

At the beginning of this year, Lush boss Mark Constantine told Retail Week if he had his way the ethical beauty business would focus on large city-centre stores like the one it had recently opened in Liverpool.

The retail business had also in recent years unveiled multi-floor experience-led stores in other major cities such as Birmingham, Munich and Shinjuku in Tokyo and Constantine was hungry for more.

“Would I like to only run large stores like Liverpool? Yes, I really would,” he said.

Constantine was not alone. Retailers ranging from Boots in Covent Garden to Primark in Birmingham were betting on large-format, city-centre stores to drive their business’ growth.

But a lot can change in 10 months, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has decimated trade and drastically decreased commuter, tourist and general footfall.

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