We are living in between times, what is hoped to be the end of the COVID era and facing a new road for human civilisation. But with the start of every new journey, something must be left behind.

As a long winter gives way to spring, the physical geography of our highstreets is changing as well. Over all the Lockdowns business’ like Amazon, Netflix and Uber have all celebrated a huge increase in their net worth, people relying on their services more than ever before. However, what happens when business retreats entirely online?

It seems like this is a question the population is having to ask themselves more often than not at the moment, with more and more shop front retailers become an endangered species. This new wave of ‘online shopping’ that has for the first time become the most popular, if not the only, way to shop, was heralded with the announcement by John Lewis on the 24th of March.

The news that 8 stores will not re-open after Lockdown, was greeted with shock and horror by many loyal customers. It is not only customers that will be impacted by this huge uphaul, over 1500 jobs will now be put at risk within the biggest employee-owned company in the UK. The stores in question are located in Aberdeen, Sheffield, Peterborough, York, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Basingstoke, and Chester, out of the remaining 42 that are set to stay open for the time being.

Somewhat compensating for the loss of jobs by offering an improved delivery and food service to customers at home, through employing a new team of workers to take on the task. Our hearts are out to those that face unemployment in these uncertain times, but John Lewis assures employees that they will be considered as events move forward.

On the other hand, this change could be the miracle that John Lewis has been on the lookout for since Lockdown began, and people were not able to visit their stores in person. Long-time customers have reported to be both apprehensive and intrigued by the change; those from small towns and villages where the John Lewis is an integral part of their community, fear the abject change to their lives that this process will bring.

With the closing of so many stores that have been a pillar of the community for decades, like the one outlet in Sheffield that has been there since 1847, there will undoubtedly be some social disquiet. With the residents of these towns voicing complaints, and even more hesitant about the prospects of their own local retail, with such a big source of income to be funnelled away.

Adaptability in retail will always be hugely important to the ongoing success of a business, the ability to read the metaphorical shopping isle and plan for the uncertain future has only become more important as time marches on and people become the most reliant upon delivery and online platforms for shopping than ever before, a trend that John Lewis believes “will not materially reverse” any time in the near future.

Competitor outlet Debenhams has already seen huge closures, with the future of the company almost inexistent, John Lewis has been applauded by many for finding a way to continue to trade and operate, even if this is from an online standpoint.

It is certainly a time of change, both in and out of our screens. While many will be wary of this step from such a big company, the revenue prospects for John Lewis look set to be on the rise, from their financial difficulties in the past, due to the switch, scrapping costly running of the physical shops. There will be much to observe in the coming years as these changes take effect in earnest and the business’s direction begins to reflect these amendments. The hope that retail will continue in tandem with online platforms is still in question, but with governmental and community schemes in place, the UK seems determined to save their highstreets from total clearance.