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Exiting Lockdown: What Next for the High Streets of Yorkshire?

26th March 2021

On February 22nd 2021 Boris Johnson announced the Government’s roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. For the High Street, two particular dates stood out:

  • April 12th
    • Non-essential retail can re-open
    • Indoor leisure facilities can re-open
    • Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors
  • May 17th
    • Indoor hospitality venues can re-open

The news was a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for high streets throughout the UK which have been subjected to forced closures and strict lockdowns on-and-off for over a year now, and the most recent has been in place since January 5th 2021.

It has been a 12+ months which has certainly taken its toll. A December study from the Local Government Association (LGA) found that that in November 2020 footfall was at 45 percent compared to the same period last year.

So, with our High Streets beginning to re-open, what does the future hold for a sector so badly impacted by the biggest global health crisis in a generation?

The Death of the High Street?

There is no doubt that the landscape of the High Street will have changed for ever.

The pandemic has seen some iconic high street names close stores and cease trading. It would also be remiss to not acknowledge the fact that pre-pandemic the High Street was already in decline. The same LGA study cited above noted that high street footfall “had dropped over 10 per cent in the last 7 years. Internet sales had risen to 21 per cent of all retail sales at the end of 2019 compared to 7 per cent a decade earlier.”

But is the High Street dead and buried? The short answer: absolutely not.

Harrisons Signs York has been proud to work with many shops, hospitality venues and local authorities throughout Yorkshire (and indeed the UK) and we personally have high hopes for a successful bounce-back for the high streets of Yorkshire. See some of our retail signage work here.

The Roaring Twenties

Why are we so optimistic?

Just over 100-years ago in 1918 Spanish Flu ripped through the world over a period of 18-months, tragically killing some 50 million people. However, what followed was a period affectionately referred to as The Roaring Twenties. People came out of the most darkest of periods in pursuit of joy. They left the house – the spent their money – they shopped – they ate – they drank – they danced…they started living their lives again.

And we think there is no reason why history will not repeat itself, helping the High Street to bounce back from this most challenging of periods stronger than ever.

As documented in this article from The Guardian “once pandemics end, often there is a period in which people seek out extensive social interaction, and which [Yale professor and social epidemiologist Dr Nicholas Christakis] predicts will be a second “roaring 20s” just as after the 1918 flu pandemic.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we think it will not be long before we see people returning to the High Street in large numbers in pursuit of entertainment, food, drink, human interaction and the ability to shop without looking at a computer screen. With this in mind, is it time your shop front signage had a refresh?

An Opportunity To Be Taken – New Shop Front Signs in York

As noted above, the High Street was already in decline, but perhaps the pandemic will give the opportunity for the High Street to push the ‘reset button’, work out what people really want when they leave their house and meet this demand accordingly.

From our point of view as a York Signage Manufacturer, we are already seeing new and existing businesses take this time to rejuvenate their shop signage, graphics and branding. These York businesses are positioning themselves at the front of the queue when it comes to grabbing the attention of customers as they make their way out of their houses and back to the High Street.

If you would like to talk more about the signage and graphics for your high street location, our expert York Sign Maker team are always on-hand and available to talk about design, production options and more. Contact us today to see how we can help build your new shop sign in Yorkshire.


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