Covid-19 threatens our high streets just as they were fighting back

David Rudlin

The so-called death of the high street was mostly about the failure of big chains, writes David Rudlin. Until now

It was only two weeks ago that my son Luca, a freelance video maker came back from a meeting with a group of Manchester bar owners reporting that some were in tears. It was the day after the government had told us not to go to bars and restaurants but had not yet told them to close. Sitting in an empty bar on St Patrick’s Day they were in despair, what should they do with their staff, how to pay their suppliers, cover their rent and repay their borrowing? It seemed that the whole sector was on the verge of being wiped out.

They are not alone of course. Town and city centres and high streets across the country are populated with low-margin, cashflow-dependent businesses such as these. The package of government measures and the scheme to furlough staff on 80% salaries will be a massive help, but it is far from clear that it will be enough to save the high street which was already in a severely weakened state.

This is premium content. 

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or SUBSCRIBE to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN

A subscription to Building Design will provide:

  • Unlimited architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a digital copy of WA100 worth over £45.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts