From Plymouth to York – the UK high streets that are NOT dying


Online shopping has become increasing popular, and was even a way of life during the pandemic. But despite the shift to a more digital shopping experience, some parts of the UK favour their high street stores over clickable purchases, according to research by payments provider Mollie.

60 locations across the UK were ranked according to five factors: number of business closures, high street strength, offline spending, postage and courier complaints, broadband speed and average salary, before being given an overall position.

In light of these factors, those living in Plymouth were rated as having the greatest loyalty to their high street.

With fewer business closures than all but Sunderland, there are more options when it comes to shopping.

In Plymouth, there were only 27.85 business closures per population of 10,000, compared to 25.75 in Sunderland.

Residents of Plymouth hailed the City for its excellent shopping; when Twitter user Mark Hall revealed plans to visit Truro in Cornwall, Michael Bell responded: “Plymouth or Exeter are much better for shopping though mate?!”

It is the largest centre for shopping in the South West of England aside from Bristol.

READ MORE: Aldi Specialbuys: The ‘secret sale’ for sold out items

According to the High Street Recovery Tracker, Plymouth had the highest footfall in the final week of February 2022.

With Plymouth taking the top spot, research found that the people of Barnsley take second place for high street shopping.

This Yorkshire city also boasts one of the most popular high streets in the UK, with the High Street Recovery Tracker recording its average footfall as the fifth highest of all large cities.

Sunderland has the third most popular high street.

Swansea, Blackpool, York, Wakefield, Burnley, Exeter and Stoke-on-Trent had the forth to 10th most loyal high street customers.

On the other hand, Reading was declared as the UK’s online shopping hotspot, where residents preferred to get their goods online as opposed to in store.


Unsurprisingly, Reading resident @WorldofNC recently tweeted: “Went into Reading centre this morn…Ghost town now!

“This side street directly off main shopping area used to be absolutely buzzing everyday. It had butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, cafes and more. Now empty but a few phone shops.

“High street is dying. Lockdown’s ensured that!”

Online shopping is majorly accessible and easy, but hope is not lost for the high street.

Industry statistics from Springboard show that overall, UK footfall increased by 9.1 percent between 20–26 February 2022 compared to the previous month.

This saw the largest single monthly uplift since June 2021.

It is nearly three times the rise from September to October 2021, before the Omicron variant hit and sent customers away from the high street.

Diane Wehrle, director at Springboard, said: “February appeared to represent a sweet spot in terms of returning footfall, with consumers’ riding high on the back of the removal of Covid restrictions. But she issued a warning as to the future of the high street for the remainder of the year.

“However, the concern for retailers over the coming months must be the likely impact on spending of rising household energy prices and fuel costs.”

As of February 2022, internet sales counted for 27.7 percent of all retail sales.

In January the figure was rather higher, at 37.8 percent.

But there is still a long way to go if the high street wants to return to its pre-pandemic state.

In February 2020, before Covid consumed the UK and forced shoppers online, only 19.1 percent of retail sales were made online.


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