The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts an 8.5% contraction in GDP in the third quarter of 2020, dwarfing the 2.2% contraction in the fourth quarter of the famous bank-led recession of 2008. The CEBR foresees a 4%% drop in GDP, even after an expected bounce-back in consumer activity, stimulated by a cut in VAT.
Unemployment could rise to a stubborn 8%.
Commercial Property Advisors (CPA) is also concerned that , during the current lock-down, consumers will have grown far too used to shopping exclusively online, which spells disaster for the high street.
How can we avoid turning our high streets into commercial deserts?
Not without innovative strategies, believes CPA. Chief among these must be a creative use of revenues from an online sales tax, injected directly into struggling bricks and mortar businesses.
This revenue could be competed for, and awarded to firms with the most imaginative approaches to revamping their stores. Cumulatively, this funded re-vamp of the high street could lure the UK shopper back to traditional shopping, as well as offering an aesthetically-pleasing appearance to our jaded town centres.
Digital tax revenues are potentially huge, and bodies awarding high street grants could include the British Retail Consortium, local authorities and Chambers of Commerce.
One benefit of the enforced shop closures must be he opportunity to plan an imaginative way out of a crisis that has long pre-dated the Covid-19 virus,, and which, like the disease itself, must be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency.