The changing nature of Potters Bar high street 

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic. - Credit: DANNY LOO

Potters Bar high street has under gone a period of change since the beginning of the pandemic. One that is more dramatic than the general turnover of business that might be generally seen. 

Darkes Lane has seen the closure of a number of restaurants and cafés. But the most dramatic difference has been the closure of over half of our charity shops. Four out of seven shops have shut their doors for good, namely Age UK, the Isabel Peace Hospice, the RSPCA and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

For charities maintaining physical premises presented a large financial burden. In the light of multiple lockdowns sustaining retail spaces that could not be used to generate income prompted the closure of many branches. 

However, the BBC has reported that there has been a surge in non-essential spending between April and June including in many charity shops. This suggests a reversal of their fortunes even if there are a reduced number of outlets. 

Abygail Tustin from Potters Bar

Abygail Tustin from Potters Bar has spoken to the WHT about her experiences of being furloughed during lockdown. - Credit: Supplied

The other shops that have weathered economic adversity have been hairdressers and barber shops. Anyone who has ventured down Potter Bar high street cannot have failed to notice the numerous amount of establishments, most of whom have survived.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic. - Credit: Google Streetview


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In April, when personal care services began reopening, the demand was large and waiting lists were long. I personally waited a month for a colour, cut and blow dry. 

Fortunately, the empty shop fronts in Darkes Lane have been filled with new enterprises. The greengrocer has been a welcome addition, selling fresh produce and adding to the variety of shops on offer.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic. - Credit: Danny Loo

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Having been able to operate throughout the majority of lockdowns, takeaways have been one of the great survivors of the high street. New offerings have emerged, with Caprinos Pizza taking over the former premises of Age UK. 

Moreover, at least for the summer months, outdoor eating spaces seem to be here to stay. They provide extra seating for restaurants and a safer space for more Covid-cautious customers. Also seeing café and restaurant goers out on the pavement gives a holiday feeling, and the street seems more social and buzzing with life.  

Potters Bar high street has managed, with some sad exceptions, to weather the Covid storm. 

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic.

Darkes Lane in Potters Bar, before the pandemic. - Credit: Danny Loo


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