One year of lockdown: Impact on economy, retail and tourism and how we move forward
One year ago Boris Johnson took the unprecedented step of locking down the country in response to the exploding covid-19 pandemic. Experts from the University of Salford Business School look back at the impact the past twelve months have had on various parts of the economy and look forward to how the recovery might look.
Dr Maria Rana, finance and economy expert, said: “One year on, a mix of national and regional lockdown restrictions have been imposed, with a significant impact on the economy. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the contraction of the UK’s GDP in 2020, -9.9%, has been one of the largest among the G7 economies.
“The good news is that we can now be cautiously optimistic regarding the economic recovery of the UK. Consumer and business confidence has jumped in the last month, and the optimistic governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has predicted that the economy could recover to its pre-pandemic size by the end of this year; earlier the OBR forecast a return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022.
“But, we are now also sadly aware of the fact that the sentence “we are all in this together”, very popular one year ago, does not reflect reality. The pandemic has exacerbated already existing deep inequalities. In the period between March and May 2020, people living in the poorest areas of England and Wales were twice as likely to die from Covid-19 (ONS, 2020). One year over, even if cases have started to decrease, the fall is significantly lower in the poorest regions of the UK.
“The hope is that the lessons learnt during the last year can drive towards the implementation of policies that can ensure a more inclusive economy with less inequality.”
Dr Gordon Fletcher, retail expert, said: “The high street has been permanently altered. The decade-long slow decline of large department stores accelerated to the point of complete failure. At the same time, the problems that exist across the entire infrastructure of the high street was attenuated by the crash of large landlords such as intu.
“At the same time there have been positives. There are persistent signals that more and more consumers are discovering the benefits and variety of shopping locally. Commentators and policy makers have also changed their tone from bemoaning the 'failure' of the high street to its rapid evolution.
“The 2021 budget took this sentiment further by offering support for local communities to "buy their pub" as part of the support for economic recovery. With increasing awareness and sensitivity to the local retail experience 2021 offers the opportunity to further advocate turnover based leases for retailers which encourages a more positive and profitable relationship between retailers and property owners. Behind the headlines of collapsing retail chains this pressure for fundamental change in the high street has also accelerated during lockdown."
Travel and tourism
Dr Neil Robinson, travel and tourism expert, said: “The tourism and travel sector has been greatly impacted upon by the last 12 months, as a result of which I suspect travel product prices will be higher due the loss of revenues over the last 12 months, and some once power houses of the hospitality and aviation sector might merge or form alliances to offset costs incurred due to the downturn in business of last 12 months.”
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