Cowbridge High Street

What’s next for our high streets as pandemic closes businesses?

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that high streets across the country are facing times of uncertainty.

For nearly a year people have been staying home and turning to online shopping to save lives. But it may have finally spelled the end for our once-thriving high streets.

In recent months there has been a rise in the number of high street stores and shops that have shut permanently. Amy Bainton, from the Federation for Small Businesses, says she is worried that we may see even more businesses having to close.

“Businesses don’t have any certainty about how and when they can re-open, it could be the final straw for a business who has survived until now,” she said.

Although the role out of Covid vaccinations brings hope for business owners, the next three months will be just as hard as the last year for many people.

Continued lockdown restrictions and trading losses have left some business owners fearing for their future.

In April business rates will be re-introduced, the Furlough scheme is set to end and, for the businesses who claimed them, Bounce Back Loans are due to be repaid by June.

“All of these massive financial burdens are coming at the same time,” said Bainton.

Sally Stephenson, owner of The Pencil Case on Cowbridge High Street, agreed that these financial factors will have a negative impact on business owners.

“I’m really concerned that there will be a huge number of businesses that will go under in the next three to six months,” she said.

“The high street is moving to a different way of shopping”

As lockdown continues many high street businesses are determined to keep their spirits high and are adapting to the new form of shopping.

Penarth is the first town in Wales to set up their high street online, with the help of grants from Vale Council and the platform ‘Shopappy’.

“If the high street is to survive we have to adapt and change with the times,” says Angelina Hall, organizer of the website and owner of Glass Design.

“The high street is moving to a different way of shopping.”

Thirteen of Penarth’s high street shops have joined the scheme and another 20 are signed up. This website means business owners and shoppers can still use Penarth high street.

You can visit Penarth’s virtual high street here;