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

Westfield Stratford

The economics of running stores have grown increasingly difficult over the past eight months. With quiet city centres, weak demand and a step-change in online, are stores still part of retailers’ future plans?

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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