Is there hope for the post-pandemic high street? Sunderland shoppers give their verdict

We spent a year locked in our houses, desperate for any bit of human interaction or adventure, and the shops are now reaping the benefits of it.

Asos’ stocks plummeted this week (read more about it here) and Boohoo has also seen a fall in its shares and stocks. And walking through The Bridges in Sunderland, shops look like the busy hubs they once were before the pandemic hit.

But many shops have also shut, with empty units where Topshop, Debenhams and Miss Selfridges used to stand proudly. Some of the brands have simply ceased to exist, whilst others have moved their retail space solely online, which supposedly offers a cheaper and wider market for the brand.

Despite this increased online shopping space, shops like Primark remain without an online store and charity shops continue to grow in popularity. We are in an odd transition period between traditional, in person shopping and online retail therapy, with both having their benefits and their pros and cons.

As advocates for IRL shopping, Fashion North spoke to some shoppers in the Bridges about their own shopping preferences.

Zoe Green, 18 and an avid Primark shopper, thinks she will return to shopping in person despite the growth in online shopping and the technology that makes it possible.

Photo Credit: Fashion North

Louise Veitch, 28, said:  “I think I’m probably going to start coming back more into stores- just because of sizing,” and pointed out the practicalities of being able to try items on in store as opposed to the lengthy return process, which she endured only because of Covid.

Next retail assistant, Sarah Richardson, 32, feels in-store sales have picked up but noted that “the centre is really empty but as a store, we are doing all right.”

With restrictions lifted and people feeling more confident about the return to everyday activities, we will have to see if the high street sees the sort of revival it deserves.



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