According to the Guardian, there are now more than 200 department store sites that are either empty or closing in 2021, with property experts suggesting that the change will see malls and town centres reinvented on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the post-war years.

Shifts in building use are already being seen, even now, with the pandemic still very much in evidence. In Reading, for example, a House of Fraser outlet is being transformed into a food hall, crazy golf course and bowling alley, while the House of Fraser in Edinburgh is being turned into a tourist attraction that promotes Johnnie Walker whisky.

Others still are being turned into hotels, along with shops and offices, others are turning into co-working spaces and student accommodation is also being suggested as an option.

Mark Robinson, chair of the government-backed High Streets Task Force, described the situation as “apocalyptic”, adding that we will now have to “evolve a whole new way of looking at the purpose of towns and centres”.

The expert went on to say that no single solution exists, however, because what will work in one location won’t necessarily work elsewhere in the country. As such, public consultation is essential and it will be key to “look for the answer within places and take local communities with you”.

The government has just announced that it will be investing up to £830 million from the Future High Streets Fund to help support areas in their recovery from the pandemic and helping to transform underused town centres, turning them into vibrant places in which to live, work and shop.

In Worcester, for example, £17.9 million has been made available to renovate the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange, while Birkenhead will see £24.6 million to deliver 186 new homes, a new space for the historic market and road safety improvements.

The idea is to help cities recover from the pandemic and drive long-term growth, enabling the implementation of ambitious regeneration plans and funding of new local projects, including new homes, the transformation of underused spaces and improvements to transport infrastructure.

It will also help protect and create thousands of jobs across a wide range of industries and sectors, creating opportunities and prosperity in communities around England.

Are you considering automatic shop doors for your retail units at the moment? Get in touch with us at UK Shopfront Specialists today to see how we can help.