Liverpool city centre faces £100m festive loss

According to Liverpool BID Company, if Liverpool returns to Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions after lockdown, businesses in the city centre could lose 25% of their festive income. Tony McDonough reports

Church Street, Liverpool
Liverpool city centre businesses face a tough Christmas. Picture by Tony McDonough


Shops, bars and restaurants in Liverpool city centre could lose £100m in the crucial festive trading period if the city remains in Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions after lockdown.

As part of a national lockdown during November all non-essential shops, as well as bars and restaurants are closed. Liverpool was under Tier 3 restrictions prior to the lockdown and it is not yet clear if that will still be the case when lockdown ends in early December.

Tier 3, which allowed shops and restaurants to open but kept those bars not selling food closed, was imposed in Liverpool in mid-October and Liverpool BID Company estimated this led to a 20% drop in income for city centre business.

The BID, which represents 1,500 businesses in the city centre, estimated that if similar strict restrictions continue until the end of 2020, this businesses could face losing £100m trade representing 25% of their Christmas revenues.

It says a lack of normal trading, fewer people travelling to the city centre from the wider Liverpool city region, reluctance to use public transport, and lower footfall has contributed to the economic impact.

Business support has enabled many firms to remain temporarily closed, but fears remain about the knock on effect, particularly if Christmas trading is not able to happen. A survey by Liverpool BID Company of its Levy Payers in retail and hospitality found they make between 30% and 50% of their income in the crucial festive period.

Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company said the figures reveal the need for more business support in 2021. He added: “Liverpool has performed strongly in what has been an intensely challenging year.

“The city went into Tier 3 and a national lockdown in a strong position, but without the vital Christmas period, the story could be very different at the start of 2021. The lost revenue of this quarter will be felt by many. It’s going to be important for people to shop local this festive period and keep their favourite stores and businesses going.”

One piece of good news was that Liverpool city centre was bucking the national trend on rising vacancy rates, seeing its number of empty units in the city centre fall below the national average to 8.4% in October 2020. This is the lowest since the series began in 2018.

Vacancy levels in Liverpool’s Retail & Leisure BID area, which includes Liverpool’s high street outside Liverpool ONE, have dropped in the past two years, falling from 12.1% in January 2018.

Nationally, the vacancy level has risen from 8.9% in the same month to 11.3% in October 2020. Liverpool bucks the trend of the wider North West, which has seen its vacancy rate rise to 12.5% from 11.4% two years before.

Vacancy rates show how many units are unoccupied within an area. The data comes from Springboard, which monitors footfall and coordinates vacancy rates collection across the UK.

Jennina O’Neill, chair of the Retail & Leisure BID, and centre manager at Metquarter, said Liverpudlians who have stayed loyal and supported independents. She added: “There’s been a positive shift and refocus to shopping locally, whether it’s a bike repair, local butchers or coffee shop.

“Christmas has always been special in Liverpool with the whole city going to town on everything from decorations to Christmas day outfits. This year more than ever we need to continue to collectively work together across the city to ensure our customers can shop and get to experience the Christmas magic and spirit.”

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