Post Pandemic Places

Based on a survey and focus groups with British adults, this 2021 report from DEMOS investigates the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s relationship to places, and what this means for post-pandemic places. It finds people’s relationship with local places has become stronger, and covers topics such as place perceptions, working patterns, moving home, and spending patterns. Policy recommendations are also outlined.

Date added 21 May 2021
Last updated 21 May 2021

*This resource is about the future of place. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to liveability and non-retail offer priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This DEMOS report focuses on how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed people’s relationship to 'place’, and what such changes might mean for the future of places, such as urban centres, going forwards. As the authors suggest, “the pandemic has placed ‘local’ in the spotlight. As our horizons have narrowed, we have a greater awareness, and in many cases, appreciation of our local areas and communities” (p. 6). So, in order to find out more about people’s experiences of their local area during the crisis, a survey was conducted with a representative sample of 20,000 British adults in December 2020. This was later followed up with focus group discussions in February 2021.

Based on this research, the following key findings about perceptions of place, working patterns, house moving, and spending patterns are reported:

Some key findings

Perceptions of place

  • The local offer in places has become more important to most people, such as local shops, greenspaces, and access to fresh air.
  • 36% of people think they will spend more time in their local area after the pandemic.
  • Younger, employed, higher income, and larger families more likely to spend more time closer to home post-Covid-19.

Working patterns

  • 65% of people have seen daily working location impacted by Covid-19.
  • 79% of people want to continue working from home in some capacity, post-pandemic.
  • People with disrupted working patterns especially likely to have a heightened sense of 'place'.

Moving home

  • 4.8% of the population had moved home for pandemic-related reasons in 2020, with a further 4.6% planning to do so, which is double pre-pandemic levels.
  • Most movement seen by low-paid young urban workers within dense urban locations, rather than people necessarily moving to the countryside.
  • Key reasons for moving are to find more suitable housing, a more supportive community, for financial reasons, or to find better access to nature.

Spending patterns

  • More people planning to spend more money in their local neighbourhoods (36%), high streets and town centres (35%).
  • This is particularly the case for people in urban locations, and who have had to work from home during the pandemic.
  • More affluent consumers report being more likely to spend more online, post-Covid-19.

Taking the project findings into account, the report provides the following key policy recommendations (p. 8) to improve the future of places, advising government to:

Policy recommendations

1. Encourage more flexible working patterns to help regenerate local neighbourhoods and widen economic participation.

2. Locational flexibility needed in people’s working patterns and job roles.

3. Tax incentives for ‘remote-working vouchers’ could be offered to stimulate more remote working desk space.

4. Support geographic locations where there are less homeworkers, to prevent them falling further behind.

5. Foster the idea of the ‘15-minute neighbourhood’, so people can access a mix of amenities nearby their homes; and

6. Ensure urban residents have access to quality outdoor and greenspaces nearby.

For more reports from DEMOS please see: www.demos.co.uk [link to external site]