Local high streets could see 17,000 new stores open over the next 12 months as retailers look to take advantage of new hybrid working models, according to research.
Barclays Corporate Banking found that consumers have returned to physical stores with confidence since restrictions began to ease, with 68% saying they have felt safe, or very safe, to return to the high street.
While there has been a boom in online shopping during the pandemic, 40% of shoppers said they plan to increase their in-store spending, a survey by the bank found.
But Barclays found that home and hybrid working patterns are likely to help local high streets over town and city centres, with 16% of workers expecting to work entirely from home and 28% anticipating a part-home, part-office model.
A quarter of consumers now say that the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open stores in their local area, leading to many retailers reviewing their location strategies.
Around 18% of retail businesses with 10 or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each looking at five new premises on average. Cumulatively, this could see 17,000 more stores in local high streets across the UK, Barclays said.
Karen Johnson, head of retail and wholesale for Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Our report shows how innovative UK retail businesses are looking to build back better to meet the challenges of a reshaped and revitalised retail landscape.
“Ecommerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep.
“With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.”
The data also found that since reopening, more than half of retailers have seen an increase in what customers spend, with average purchases up 9% on pre-pandemic levels.
Health and lifestyle products have proved particularly popular, especially among younger shoppers, and 38% of retailers also reported an increase in demand for sustainable products with a reduced environmental impact.