Covid-19 has taken its toll on almost every sector, but Britain’s High Street has been hit particularly hard.
There was a net loss of almost 10,000 stores in the UK last year and auditors PwC have warned that the full effects of the pandemic have yet to be felt.
As non-essential stores prepare to reopen next week, BBC Radio 5 has heard live from some of the workers affected by these closures.
Heather Rowlinson, 54, from Newcastle, worked at Topshop for 34 years and was manager for 30 of those years.
She is still unemployed and “really misses my team, lacks the structure to get up every day and go to work and has a hard time getting answers from applications I have made”.
She says she feels “ghostly” by recruiting agencies and companies telling her they have a job for her and then never calling back.
“You give them a call back, they never answer your calls,” she says.
Amy Dwyer, 21, worked at Debenhams in Manchester’s Trafford Center while studying politics at the University of Manchester.
When she lost her job in May, she had to give up her student housing a month early and move back to her family in Preston.
It took her four or five months to find another job. She now works for the university’s career service and provides resume advice to other students.
Amy believes that affordable housing in the city center is the key to breathing life back into the High Streets.
“The high streets will not recover until we get more people living in them,” she says. “You see major developments being built, and only 50% are affordable housing.”
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