York one of the most at-risk high streets in the UK, according to new survey

The former Debenhams store on Davygate is empty. Photographs: Richard McDougall
5 Jun 2020 @ 7.30 am
| Business

A retail survey has sounded alarm bells over York city centre’s future as a top shopping destination.

The analysis has placed York in the top ten of ‘most at-risk high streets in the UK’.

By examining which retail and restaurant businesses have gone into administration since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, AskTraders.com placed York at number eight on its most at-risk list.

Source: AskTraders.com

It says 20 stores have closed in the city.

London is the worst hit with 128 store closures, and Leeds is fourth with 34.

Selby, by contrast, is one of the least at risk. With only one predicted store closure, it is “likely to survive coronavirus measures with the smallest loss possible,” the survey authors said.

Household names hit

Not set to reopen: Carluccio’s

A previous AskTraders.com survey, updated before the close-down in February, placed York seventh in the worst-affected high streets based on research into ATM, bank and retail store opens and closures.

Its senior market analyst said: “This pandemic has seen household names such as Debenhams and Cath Kidston close. Both of these are long-standing members of the high-street.

“Looking forward, more high street brands will probably fail over the coming days, weeks and even months after COVID-19.”

In York, many big names have gone. Debenhams has already closed, and the Carluccio’s in St Helen’s Square will not reopen, after the group went into administration.

In a strong position

The My City Centre team: Sarah Czarnecki, Hospitality Association York, Chris Price, Make it York, Steve Secker, Chamber of Commerce and York Property Forum, Phil Pinder, York Retail Association, Cllr Andrew Waller, City of York Council, Lizzie Dealey, Canal and River Trust, Lissa Anderson, York CVS, Andrew Lowson, York BID. Photograph: City of York Council

Phil Pinder, chairman of York Retail Forum, said: “The survey clearly looks at York with an outsider view and ignores the unique popularity we enjoy as the true capital of Yorkshire.

“With 8.15 million visitors a year and shops being one of the main reasons people come to York, I’m a bit surprised that we are deemed ‘at risk’.

“We have lost names like Dorothy Perkins and Burtons from the city centre and we all make fewer trips to the high street, but retail will always change and it’s about making the experience different and exciting.

“York continues to do that – because not only is it a beautiful city, but it’s an exciting place to visit.

“We’re in a strong position compared with lots of places. There are always going to be casualties – we have already seen Carluccio’s close in recent weeks for example – but we have got a very healthy high street and an independent high street.

“We have got a great mix of shops and it does work well.”

Meanwhile, City of York Council pointed out that York has the second-healthiest high street in the country according to occupancy rates.

And it has launched My City Centre, an initiative to develop a long-term vision to shape a city centre where people of York love to spend time, live and work.