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Retail Trade: Shops

Question for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

UIN 56240, tabled on 15 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the rate of recovery of footfall in retail premises in urban areas and the impact of that rate of recovery on urban economies following the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

25 October 2021

The Department engages regularly at both Ministerial and official level with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on a range of joint issues affecting urban areas, including the recovery of footfall in the retail sector and recovery following the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government is providing support to local leadership with a High Streets Task Force, giving them expert advice to support their high streets and town centres to adapt and thrive. Over five years this is providing hands-on support to local areas to develop data-driven innovative strategies and connect local areas to relevant experts. The Task Force has set up a Sector Leaders Group and a Professional Research and Data Group, who are playing a vital role in supporting the recovery of our local economies by providing intelligence and evidence to support the High Street Tasks Force and Government in its response to the pandemic. The Professional Research and Data Group provides regular data analysis, including footfall trends, on the Task Force website (https://www.highstreetstaskforce.org.uk/).

More broadly, our ambition is to ensure that town and city centres continue to flourish now and in the future. On 15 July, we published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, where we committed to continue working with the sector on its long-term strategic needs to ensure that businesses are profitable, resilient, innovative and support local economies in socially and environmentally responsible ways.

The Government also set up the Urban Centre Recovery Task Force last year to consider the impact of covid-19 on our cities and offer recommendations on practical measures that government could take to help cities adapt and take advantage of new opportunities. This includes the permanence of any changes, how to support city economies to adapt and how to take advantage of any opportunities, with a focus on regeneration, repurposing, housing and other relevant areas such as planning.