Revisiting Brick Lane: The Impact of COVID-19 on an Ethnically Diverse High Street

Claire Alexander, Sean Carey, Suzanne Hall, Julia King

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High streets remain crucial to the economic, social and cultural lives of our cities, towns and neighbourhoods.

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing struggles for business owners and workers in the food and hospitality sectors nationally; this has implications for South Asian Muslim communities, who have historically been over-represented in these areas – 30.7 per cent of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are employed in distribution, hospitality and food retail, and 20.4 per cent are self-employed/small business owners.

Successive pandemic lockdowns have severely impacted businesses in Brick Lane, notably the ‘Indian’ restaurants.

While support schemes (rent and furlough) have mitigated some of the impact of the lockdowns, business closures in Brick Lane have doubled and trading activities for remaining businesses have been severely curtailed.

Moving business online through deliveries has been made difficult by the exorbitant rates of digital platforms.

Although the majority of businesses have now reopened, trade is very low (estimated at around two-thirds of usual turnover, and lower for the curry houses at 10–30 per cent).

Some new businesses are opening up, but there is concern among established businesses about the future.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRunnymede Trust
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Publication series

NameRunnymede/CoDE Covid 19 Briefings


  • high streets
  • ethnicity
  • race
  • ethnic diversity
  • small business
  • covid 19
  • lockdown


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