Positive picture for retail in Norwich following Covid-19 lockdowns

Retail in Norwich is bouncing back following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is according to the retail monitor survey, carried out by Norwich City Council in March this year, which shows the number of empty shops in Norwich is falling, the number of shoppers is increasing, and spending is also up on pre-pandemic levels.

Smaller shops, such as those in the Norwich Lanes, also continue to thrive, with even lower vacancy rates than the rest of the city.

Councillor Mike Stonard, portfolio holder for inclusive and sustainable growth at Norwich City Council, said: “This report shows Norwich remains a vibrant shopping location, which continues to attract investment, despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Along with many other industries, retail in Norwich has experienced a difficult time, but the picture two years on is looking much more positive.

“Alongside this, the city council continues its investment in public space improvements – such as Hay Hill and the eight Town Fund projects, to ensure Norwich remains a key destination and one that people want to spend time in.”

The report is an update to the last retail monitor, carried out by the council in July 2021 – when there was a significant rise in vacant shops from 10.1% in October 2019 to 14.1% in July 2021. 

The shop vacancy rate is now 13.8%, which compares favourably to the national rate of 14.1% and it is hoped this will continue to fall, as Norwich sees ongoing investment from larger companies and more independent start-ups.

Examples of this include:

  • The Royal Arcade, which has recently changed ownership
  • Independent businesses moving from Norwich Market into shop space in the city centre
  • Morrisons moving into the former Topshop building
  • The redevelopment of the former Tesco Metro on Gaol Hill into a hotel and retail use
  • Further planned investment in both Chantry Place and Castle Quarter 

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