Whilst our neighbourhood and national sites seem to be buzzing and operator demand growing, our central London streets remain quiet. Without office workers and tourists, parts of Central London remain half open. This creates the latest decision facing operators; to open or not ? As they ask themselves is there enough footfall to justify opening and if not when will there be? It is like the age old conundrum, what came first the Chicken or the egg?
It’s a catch22. Limited shops open, means there is less reason for shoppers to visit and spend. Less shoppers means people don’t want to open. If consumers are looking to physically shop they are more likely to visit prime central locations such as Regent St or Oxford St or a regional shopping centre like Brent Cross or Westfield London, which due to their size are likely to provide more choice.
We chose our office location in Covent Garden due to the vibrant environment and the range of facilities available to our staff. Over the last few weeks, it’s the complete opposite, we have only 2 options nearby which are open to grab lunch and many of the shops remain closed. If this continues does it impact office lettings in the immediate area as well as landlords retail holdings?
Furthermore, if shops which are now allowed to open decide not to, Landlords may feel less inclined to help with any flexibility regarding rents. So, this might add even more pressure to our operators. Without any changes to our social distancing rules and guidance from the government regarding going back to our offices, it feels our central London shopping sites will remain in this strange limbo.