Sheffield's new Heart of the City - The COVID-19 aftermath
Sheffield city centre was going through a transition before the COVID-19 pandemic, as were high streets up-and-down the country. Online shopping has been slowly killing off bricks and mortar retail, the pandemic has simply sped that up.
If you’ve not been into the city centre in the past 12 months you’ll notice it’s changed a fair bit. High street chains Topshop and Office have left Fargate, Debenhams won’t be reopening and today we learnt that John Lewis won’t be reopening either.
Todays news is the most surprising as John Lewis/Cole Brothers is an iconic part of Sheffield’s city centre and it’s presence is so strong that the council invested £3.4 million last August encouraging it to stay in the city, a focal point in the Heart of the City redevelopment.
We don’t usually talk about chain stores and we try to stay positive and that’s what we are going to do here.
Sheffield City Centre had to change, it was changing and in the past 12 months we’ve adapted new habits. Shopping online has become the ‘new normal’ and it is a trend that will continue to stay with us. The high street isn’t dying, it’s just evolving, for the better and it will be the independents who can benefit.
From new canal side bar/restaurant True Loves at Victoria Quays to Castlegate foodhall Kommune, then at the other side of town you’ve got Moor Market full of local traders and Sheffield’s iconic department store Atkinsons. That’s not all, there’s plenty of independent shops on Division Street, from high end clothing from Collard Manson to vintage threads at Vulgar and records from Bear Tree whilst Birds Yard is a home for local makers. Along with our independent retails we’ve got plenty of great cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs, all unique, the city centre is becoming a destination for food and drink, alongside shopping.
These are all much loved spots which will be joined by a new retail experience at Leah’s Yard (expected to open in 2023), across the road from two storey food hall Cambridge Road Collective, both of which are part of the Heart of the City redevelopment. These exciting new ventures will be joined by green space being created and more projects showcasing Sheffield’s great independents.
If you want to go ‘shopping’ for the stuff that you can find in every other high street in the country or online head to Meadowhall, if you are looking for something unique, or an experience our city centre can, and will continue to provide that.
Yes it’s sad to see some icons go but this is an opportunity to evolve.