Impact of Covid-19 on communities

Impact of Covid-19 on communities

Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work, shop and socialise. With Post Office branches across the country, and our Postmasters playing a critical role in supporting customers and the local area, we have carried out research to understand how communities are recovering post the national lockdown earlier this year.

The recommendations put forward in this report focus on national and regional policies for Government which will support our Postmasters in their communities and further develop local high streets across the country.

What is the research?

The report, Turnaround Towns, analysed 10 towns in northern England with lower than average growth over the past five years and four metrics from the Post Office which act as a reliable proxy for local economic activity. Analysis of Post Office data by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) was released today.

What does the research show?

Struggling towns in the north of England are experiencing strong growth following the first lockdown. Towns like Huddersfield and Wakefield outside Leeds, and Mansfield on the edge of Nottingham have had the largest boost in local economic activity as people work where they live in response to Covid-19. These towns that have been historically left behind but may be benefitting from a re-purposing of place as a consequence of the pandemic.

What are the key findings:

In Mails

  • Bedroom businesses and marketplace selling is on the up as a result of the pandemic
  • Home shopper returns suggest increased footfall on local high streets

In Banking

  • Business deposits are returning, slowly
  • Many are still using cash

Views

Commenting on the research include:

         
Post Office Chief Executive Nick Read   Jeevan Singh Skayee, Postmaster for Moldgreen Post Office, Huddersfield     CEBR Managing Economist Josie Dent
“Many towns have long been in the economic shadow of nearby cities so it is encouraging to see strong signs of growth and revival as more people work where they live. Post Office will play its part helping people to withdraw and deposit cash locally to them as well as send parcels to anywhere in the world.”   It is more important than ever to help with the economic recovery and Postmasters are playing a critical part.

Jeevan’s branch is at the hub of the community and he values each every one of his customers that he serves every day.

“The past few weeks have felt as busy as Christmas as more and more local customers are coming to use our services. Being able to withdraw cash either at our ATM or over the counter has been incredibly popular. We have always had a more elderly customer base given we’re about 1.5 miles from the centre of Huddersfield but increasingly younger customers have been popping in. It has been nice to get to know more of the local community as they drop off their parcels or take out some cash.”
  “We did not expect to see such a strong recovery in towns that have traditionally struggled. For many of these towns to have cancelled out the depth of the contraction they faced in lockdown is extraordinary. Policymakers should take note to nurture these green shoots of the recovery going into what will no-doubt be a challenging autumn.”

What happens now?

The Post Office and CEBR have put forward the following recommendations for policymakers as part of the report which will support our Postmasters to grow their business.

  • Build high streets for local need
  • Protect the right to cash
  • Encourage business and entrepreneurial collaboration

Further information and the full report can be found here.