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The year the high street returns

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Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambidge BID, discusses the retail scene.

It is two years since the first Covid-19 cases were reported in Asia. You will recall SARS-CoV-2 was the name given and how life has changed.

Our daily lives have a whole new glossary - masks, LFTs and PCRs etc but we are finally beginning to live with the disease as it becomes milder and manageable.

The high street has much to offer in 2022
The high street has much to offer in 2022

One thing that has not changed is people’s views on the high street and for me it is a positive one.

Two years ago M+S was overtaken in value by Boohoo. This week, it is worth more than Boohoo and ASOS combined. Shares in Next and JD Sports are at an all-time high and Frasers and Flannels have strong results forecasted.

Yes, some of this is due to online but the high street performed broadly well over 2021 as part of the strong economic recovery.

This week, surveys from Deloitte and Make UK reported a positive outlook from UK corporates and the manufacturing sector, although both cited labour shortages and inflation as concerns.

Cambridge BID CEO Ian Sandison
Cambridge BID CEO Ian Sandison

I spent some time over the holiday period walking around our city and noting the changes in businesses that had occurred over the past two years.

Over 60 businesses have closed but almost all have been replaced by something new and the net effect on the high street, not including shopping centres, is no real change in the number of empty shops we have.

It is encouraging to see so many new fit-outs in progress. We have new hotels being finalised, a new car park being built, new offices being opened and many other positive developments in the city centre and rail station area. With household savings at record levels and Cambridge continuing to attract world-class companies then the outlook for 2022 is positive.

I would encourage you all to use your high street - whether it is a neighbourhood one or the city centre. Get to know the businesses and staff there, tap into their product knowledge and skill and you will find this can be a very rewarding and positive experience.

Read more from Ian Sandison

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