back to article Coronavirus lockdown forces UK retailers to shut 382 million square feet of floor space

Analytics house GlobalData has calculated that British retailers have shut 382 million sq ft of floor space since the UK's coronavirus lockdown on 23 March, causing a £14.5bn drop in sales – though it claims that equates to roughly £200 of delayed or cancelled spending per each local. Maureen Hinton, global retail director at …

  1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The whole landscape will change permanently. We have to embrace a sea-change in how everything is done. It's hard to get our heads around. We may end up with a much improved delivery infrastructure and fewer shops. Shopping centres/malls will become an irrelevance. It sounds drastic, but there was a time when we didn't have them.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Not really. They were markets. We've had markets a long time. If we go back to before we had markets... well, we can. I'd love to live on a tropical island or up somewhere nice in a vally growing my own grapes...

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Actually, in our area we have gone back to before markets. It's called buying directly from the farmer via his farm shop. They deliver as well, via their own milkman. (they didn't throw away the old glass milk bottle filling stuff, and started selling milk and other foods a few years ago. You can even order online for delivery the next day.

        Shops that offer additional value will survive. Those that don't, won't. We are happy to buy meat etc from the farmer despite it being nominally more expensive since none of it evaporates shortly after it goes in a frying pan.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          That's easy enough if you live next to a farmer (as most of my family do), but not really an option for people living in towns and cities (ie, most people).

          1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            That depends on your city...

            I live in the suburbs of one the top 10 by population (more so if you include the metropolitan area) and we can still get farmers food delivered to us and I know they even go to the heart of the city.

            What I'm surprised I haven't seen more of is good old fashioned mobile grocer's and the like (though we did get visited by a mobile fish mongers which was nice).

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Sausage sellers in cities are finding it extremely difficult presently, its hard to make both ends meat.

            GNU Sir Terry

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >They were markets. We've had markets a long time

        I for one will miss my annual trek to Troyes for the cloth faire and start buying my $2 black T-shirts online.

      3. Efer Brick

        And cultivate your inner Jean-Luc Picard?

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      We will end up with a few very large companies (like Amazon) that are "too big to fail" and will get government support to recover from the government's mandated close down. All small companies will disappear, some will be recreated but they be just mice running around under the Amazon dining table.

      Shopping centers will disappear and so will the high street, restaurants might briefly reappear but when nobody can afford to spend their universal credit for anything more than a burger at a chain, the high streets will be deserted except for chlorine bleached chicken burger shops.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        And yet....

        Towns without the likes of Arcadia and INTU polluting the area with over priced identikit shops, all peddling the same overpriced tat, were doing ok before.

        Internet shopping has killed the mall and retail park. It was those that killed the high st.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Well, maybe, except that living in London, I've found I can queue for an hour to get in to the local supermarket, or I can pop in to the big Turkish cornerstore, where they've installed a butcher's counter at the back (with an actual butcher, a guy with a big blade hacking up carcasses) and have the freshest veg straight from New Spitalfields veg market (huge bunches of mint, parsley and coriander for 50p each, tomatoes that taste of tomato instead of red mush, baby cucumbers, best peaches I've had in ages, etc). There's homemade baklava and borek and fresh flatbreads...

        We've actually started eating much more tasty home-made food now I don't spend ~2hrs a day schlepping in to the city each day. I could get used to this.

    3. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Management speak

      With changing "landscapes", "embracing" of "sea changes" and stuff to "get our heads around", it looks like mixed and surplus metaphors will survive the virus.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Management speak

        At least post-Brexit we will be self-sufficient in proper British clichés

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      "We have to embrace a sea-change in how everything is done"

      NO!!! N !! O !! NO NO NO NO NO!!!

      Instead, WHY NOT RESIST STUPID POLICIES LIKE THIS??? Or, how about this: wait until YOUR job becomes "unessential" and YOU are suddenly stuck with no income, the potential of being evicted onto the street without being able to do ANYTHING about it [except wait for big nanny gummint to "help" you], and so on.

      SERIOUSLY - this whole approach is MADNESS and needs to STOP...

      "New normal" my NAKED HAIRY ASS!

      (time will prove that I am right, but I doubt anyone will acknowledge it)

      Yes. It's called FREEDOM. And, just to make a point, it's worth DYING for. The FALSE "security" of these RIDICULOUS SHUTDOWNS [which hurts EVERYONE, but "unequally"] is *NOT* something to *EMBRACE*. It's something to *RESIST*!!!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I think the "sea change" is.

        We are out of bog-roll, let us drive 20mins out of town and peruse the main new and innovative flavours of bog roll that a range of stores have available before filling the car with some and driving home.

        Replaced with: Some algorithm at $MeaCorp has calculated that we will run out of bog roll tomorrow and our subscription package of our normal brand has arrived today

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Happy

          well, more people doing deliveries and mail order... retailers were _already_ adapting to that. "More of Same" in THIS case would be a good thing, then!

          Then instead of being a checkout clerk or shelf stocker you're a delivery driver... earning tips!

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Ahhh Bob, we can always rely on our resident redneck for a good healthy dose of capital letters.

        Do us a favour Bob? If you get it, don't bother calling the Emergency services (as you clearly don't give a flying fuck about their health), just be your usual selfish self,crawl back into your cave and leave it up to the lord almighty.

        Humanity is slowly leaving your kind behind, and one day, they'll be like the dinosaur.

      3. Efer Brick

        Nice of you to volunteer

  2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Analytics house GlobalData has calculated that British retailers have shut 382 million sq ft of floor space since the UK's coronavirus lockdown on 23 March, causing a £14.5bn drop in sales – though it claims that equates to roughly £200 of delayed or cancelled spending per each local.

    This is fantastic news! people are at last being forced to see that they dont have to constantly buy shit off the high street , and then put their old shit in big bags and take it to the 'poor people' dumpster at the supermarket, or worse the recycling centre

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      No, now they buy shit online.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Flame

        Yes and as I find the size guides are often complete works of fiction!

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      you forgot the troll icon...

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Same will be true of business property

    Employers are not going to want to pay for office space now they're getting working from home sussed.

    Pity that your pension is invested in property.

    Also a pity that all those business rate receipts are going to have to be replaced by taxation elsewhere...

    1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Same will be true of business property

      Employers are not going to want to pay for office space now they're getting working from home sussed.

      Only in a few cases I think, as most employers aren't particularly innovative and most jobs are pretty boring. The problem is that office productivity is hard to measure except very intrusively. So, most employers just monitor the amount of time their serfs spend chained to a desk and rely on imagining there being limited opportunities in the office to do anything that isn't work. This rather naive system falls apart if the serfs are allowed work at home.

    2. Efer Brick

      Re: Same will be true of business property

      Whos gonna take the new 'mega towers' in the City of London, that's a lotta "WeWork"; The banks have mostly poked off to Canary Wharf

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next? The Mall Owners go bust

    One of them had been signalling that things were a bit iffy well before CV-19 hit us.

    Things are going to get a lot worse before this is over. Spending money on anything other than essentials [1] is just silly these days.

    [1] In Trumpistan, buying a Gun is considered an essential so Gun Shops can stay open.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Next? The Mall Owners go bust

      Malls never made much sense in the UK.

      They are an american import, where they had lots of cheap space with low taxes. Our space is not cheap, and the taxes aren't low. These two points immediately doom most shopping malls business models. It's a wonder we ended up with as many of them as we did, frankly.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Next? The Mall Owners go bust

        Actually the "malls" were cheap. Often built in waste land, with councils begging them to breathe life into an are. However, they seemed to not understand the concept that it would destroy other areas.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Next? The Mall Owners go bust

          >However, they seemed to not understand the concept that it would destroy other areas.

          Yes they did, but it's easier to get re-elected with pictures in the local paper of you cutting the ribbon on a new out of town shopping center that "creates 1000 new jobs" than a report of a council meeting where you deny the planning application in order to preserve a few corner shops.

        2. cpm86

          Re: Next? The Mall Owners go bust

          Yes,

          Mr Arnold Hagenbach and Mr Dale (Arndale) and their builder Mr Keith Joseph and their architect Mr. Poulson pretty much expected Local Authorities to give them the land in return for regeneration. If one Local Authority wouldn't play ball there was always another just down the road. Mr Stakis had pretty much the same approach builing hotels at the same time and it worked well.

        3. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Next? The Mall Owners go bust

          The shopping malls around our way are concentrated around or in town centres. Several have already failed, and at least one is in the process of knocking some holes in the back walls of the shops to get some windows and replacing the glass frontages with brick walls so they can sell or rent them as flats.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Analytics house GlobalData has calculated that British retailers have shut 382 million sq ft of floor space since the UK's coronavirus lockdown on 23 March, causing a £14.5bn drop in sales – though it claims that equates to roughly £200 of delayed or cancelled spending per each local.

    I think its good as per the cases scenario in UK at the moment. Let's hope this puts an end on the spread.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      "Let's hope this puts an end on the spread"

      it won't. It'll slow it down a *LITTLE* at a *HUGE* *COST* to *EVERYBODY* [except those elitists at the top who manage to make a killing during every disaster, through various forms of manipulation].

      (I know everyone WANTS it to work. Reality...)

      It's a VIRUS. Chances are EVERYONE will catch it at some point. SLowing things down for a BRIEF period of time ONLY makes sense if your hospitals would be overwhelmed if you did NOT do this [then you take time to prepare, and let it rip]. At some point this highly contagious disease will hit EVERYONE regardless of who you are. If you can prepare for THAT, and mitigate "triage deaths", it's worth doing a shutown. If "triage deaths" are NO LONGER A FACTOR [case in point, *NOW*], it is POINTLESS to try and stop a virus by SHUTTING DOWN EVERYTHING "deemed non-essential" like this. It's certainly EXTREMLY HARD on 1/3 of society who work in service industries, and chances are they're middle or lower class wage earners. [why aren't socialists SCREAMING about THIS right now? Hmmm???]

      It just so happens that service industry businesses are my customer's customers, and they're doing poorly, and that's affecting ME, too. EVERYBODY HURTS FROM THIS, in other words. Misery "trickles down", and for WHAT, a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY?

      RECOGNIZE it's a virus, it's HIGHLY infectious, and it CANNOT be stopped without some form of "Herd Immunity". But you CAN mitigate things at the hospitals, protect specific individuals, AND ACHIEVE HERD IMMUNITY, if you STOP THE SHUTDOWNS NOW!

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Bob, can you point out which fat, white bearded redneck you were in the "protests", just so we know.

        Your kind are hilarious. You state how you hate the government, then cry like a spoilt child when the government doesn't protect you from those nasty "reds" overseas.

        You campaign for capitalism, without understanding what it is, and you moan about liberals, without understanding the meaning of liberal.

        Bet you even own a Confederate flag, go on admit it, you do.

        Must be hard being scared of everything new,I feel sorry for your kind, slowly losing your grip on power to blacks, browns yellows and even women!

        1. RyokuMas Silver badge

          You can lead a horse to water

          @IGotOut

          Hate to say this bud, but however long it took you to type that - well, that's time from your life you ain't getting back. At best you'll be ignored, at worst, you'll be branded a "howler monkey", just like anyone else who doesn't fit with that vision of the world.

          Just report the post - I think points 2, 3, 4, 7, and 15 of the comment guidelines are broken on a fairly regular basis by these sort of posts, and with the "howler monkey" responses and everything about the lockdown, I'm also questioning how near the line he is for point 11 too.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        It just so happens that service industry businesses are my customer's customers, and they're doing poorly, and that's affecting ME, too.

        Did you know that in the influenza outbreak in 1918 US companies initially decided that they didn't want no stinking lockdown as it would hurt their businesses with nobody being able to use their company?

        Then having prevented what we today call a lockdown they discovered that almost everybody was avoiding cinemas, theaters, eating out etc and those same companies then became the biggest advocates for a lockdown on the basis that a few weeks or a month down the line they could get back to relative normality instead of being ruined by everybody doing their best to avoid getting infected (and so avoiding their businesses) for the length of the outbreak which would otherwise be many months if not years.

        You didn't know that and now want to try and reenact it again?

        Have you by any chance heard the saying "history repeats itself because nobody was listening the first time"?

  6. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Cunning plan!

    Sooo.. Lots of empty space? Hmm..

    So oil, at least the West Texas version's down to $10/bbl*. So buy barrels, store in empty retail units until oil price rises. Collect profits!

    Possibly a few snags, like-

    Hazchem compliance. But could be combined with insurance claims and lease vacating in a kinda double carbon-releasing kinda way.

    Creating a run on barrels. There's already been one on supertankers for off-shore storage though. Wonder if politicians could recycle their pork barrels?

    But more seriously.. There could be an interesting ripple effect and chance to reprice a shedload of assets. Which kinda sucks for the current asset owners, but assets like property could end up being bought out of bankruptcy & put back on the market at saner prices/lease rates. Which would be bad news for banks, and probably a bunch of pension funds that have invested in real-estate, although depending on how they've invested, they may end up owning assets instead of debt.. Lawyers will of course make bank regardless.

    *Remember when energy prices rose due to 'high oil & gas prices'? Seen notices from your friendly energy suppliers cutting prices lately?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Cunning plan!

      crude prices are low, yeah. Storage costs may exceed profits, though. It's hard to say. not a bad plan, in theory. I don't know enough about the oil industry to comment further, except to say "why isn't anyone doing this already?"

      My guess is that these people know something... something that we do not.

      [smart money doesn't announce its plans nor its reasons for them]

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Cunning plan!

        except to say "why isn't anyone doing this already?"

        They kind of are, ie reports that tankers are being used as floating oil stores until prices improve. But there's a finite number of tankers, and oil being something of a liquid asset, isn't the easiest thing to store. The US has Cushing as one place, which is a pretty massive tank farm if you look at it on aerial maps.

        Future is one of those strange things though. So if there are a lot of empty retail units, rents should fall to fill them. That's a problem that pre-dates Covid though, ie retailers going bust, or empty stores in previously famous locations like 5th Avenue in NY. Back to oil, some think reduced consumption is a good thing, but that's only a proxy for lack of economic activity, which is a bad thing. And to get the good thing going again, consumption may increase thanks to new, lower prices.. Which will upset the economists who think inflation is a good thing, and hate lower prices/costs/deflation.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Cunning plan!

          If I was the american president i'd be quietly filling up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the brim with an extra 162 million barrels of oil.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "Shopping centres/malls will become an irrelevance"

    Malls were already dead here on this side of the pond. Most of them have not seen much foot traffic in 5 or 6 years and were already going bankrupt. I took a picture at one last Christmas, where there was 2 people far off in the distance and that was IT.

    A lot of it is the shitty traffic system. 15 years ago, I could go from UCF (local uni) to the mall in downtown Orlando in 20 minutes after class doing a steady 35mph. It made it a valid pastime to go window-shop.

    Now? It's a 45-60 minute drive through a sea of complete assholes, and by the time you get there, you're in no mood to spend money.

    My fear is all the nice little restaurants are going under, like the local good BBQ or seafood joint.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "Shopping centres/malls will become an irrelevance"

      My fear is all the nice little restaurants are going under, like the local good BBQ or seafood joint.

      They're probably the most likely to re-emerge. Probably not survive if they're small restaurants as they'll have debt & cashflow problems. Ones that perhaps deserve to fail are the big chains that have over expanded, so bye bye IHOP, hello indie pancake store. Still be tough on franchise owners & investors, but people will still have to eat. But hugely disruptive down and across all supply chains, from boat owners/farmers to retailers.

  8. Securitymoose
    Childcatcher

    Clothing shops going out of business? Boo hoo.

    Good riddance to those distributors who source their wares from sweatshops. We already have too many clothes, and the fashion culture is mostly hype. Who can afford, or would want to be seen in, some of the stuff they strut about to?

    On the normal scale, if you've seen the pollution out east caused by our greed for cheap clothing, including the complete destruction of the Aral Sea, you might think that it's time to return to growing our own materials, weaving and dying locally, and returning to the art of seamstress (or seamster I guess). Clothes will cost more, of course, but we won't be buying so many, and we will be self-sufficient.

    But what about the poor folks out of a job, I hear you cry? Could they return to farming, and growing their own food instead, and perhaps collect some of the rubbish they chucked into the sea, to slowly let this poor planet of ours recover for future generations?

    1. clyde666

      Re: Clothing shops going out of business? Boo hoo.

      Absolutely.

      Probably 90% of the clothes buying in town centres is utterly wasteful. Most of it ends up in charity shops or thrown away.

      Would be no bad thing for a bunch of ethics-void landlords to lose out.

  9. Cuddles Silver badge

    Square feet?

    For those who don't understand confusing old units, that's more sensibly expressed as 1.708 milliWales or 0.0012 Belgiums.

    Although that raises another important question - should units really use camel case, or would that more properly be "milliwales"?

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