Tattoo parlours are on the rise while banks and department stores appear to be on their way out on British high streets. Government-imposed lockdowns are understood to be largely behind the rapidly changing faces of our towns and cities.
There were 9,300 fewer retail outlets this March than in the same month in 2020, according to new research.
The changing retail outlook appears to reflect the shift to online shopping – and, indeed, banking – which was largely bolstered during the two years when at points Britons were ordered not to leave their homes.
Ordnance Survey data, published by the BBC, shows there was an 8.1 percent nationwide decline in the number of banks between March 2020 and March 2022.
Department stores were also down 13.4 percent, nightclubs 9.4 percent and clothes shops 8.5 percent.
The businesses which performed best over this period were hair and beauty services (up by 5.9 percent), fast food and takeaway establishments (7.2) and, at the top of the list, tattoo and piercing studios (8.2).
BBC data journalist Nassos Stylianou described the data as illustrating “the changing face of high streets and shopping areas from places to buy things to places to do stuff”.
High Streets Task Force board member Nick Plumb also said the shifting trend away from purchasing goods on location since lockdowns.
He wrote in a post on Twitter this highlighted “changes in shopping habits during pandemics now filtering through to changes in building use”.
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The social media page for Belfast Books, a bookshop in Northern Ireland’s capital, meanwhile expressed its disappointment that the new figures do not cover the country.
Food and drink outlets appeared stuck in the middle of one rising and one declining trend, seeing an uptick in the number of premises over the timeline, but only minimally.
Across the country, there was a 5.7 percent increase in the number of cafes.
The figure for pubs and bars was just 1.6 percent.
Debenhams was among the largest high street stores to close its doors during Government-imposed lockdowns, putting jobs at risk and signalling the end of an era.