Is the high street truly dead?

Together we are Forbes


05 August, 2021

Helen Marsh

There is currently a downward trend in high street shopping, mainly due to an increase in shopping online. This has been accelerated by the pandemic as high street shops have been forced to close and ultimately improve their online services to retain customers. The impact has been so great that, in 2020, more than 17,500 high street shops were lost.

The slow lifting of lockdown restrictions accompanied by the excitement of the Euros 2021 has put a halt to this decline. High street sales in June 2021 were 13.1% higher than in June 2019 and the total second quarter of 2021 rose at the fastest rate since 1995. These figures would suggest a promising comeback for high street shops, but the influence of the pandemic upon these figures must be taken into consideration. Due to high street shops being closed, holidays abroad being non-existent and fear of catching the virus, people stayed at home and saved money. As such, many people have since been more willing to spend in high streets shops and may have been more inclined to visit a physical shop rather than shopping online.

The future of the high street may appear bleak with well-known stores such as Debenhams closing down and John Lewis closing over 150 shops. Despite this, some businesses are still seeing the potential in the high street and have been taking advantage of good lease deals which are on offer as many landlords are seeking tenants for properties which are empty as a result of the pandemic. Online retailer Boohoo acquired Debenhams in January and have announced that they will be bringing it back to the high street (albeit there are only currently plans for 1 store) with the intention to strike deals with several major beauty and cosmetic brands. Hopefully, this will encourage other online retailers to follow suit and the high street will continue to survive - and thrive.

At Forbes, we have a dedicated retail team who can provide assistance if you are considering investing in or trading from the high street, or indeed any retail space. Our services include new Leases, Lease disposals and lease management such as Licences for Alterations for re-fits etc. Please visit our website at Commercial Property ( for more details and information on how we can help.

For more information contact Helen Marsh in our Commercial Property department via email or phone on 0333 207 4236. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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