Durham City has lost £17m in six months according to research carried out by Studee, an education consultancy company which helps international students to apply to study abroad.
The losses are due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw students leave their university cities in March as a national lockdown was announced.
The research estimated that Durham City has taken an economic hit of around £2.8m every month since lockdown began.
Takeaways in the City are estimated to have made losses of around £1.6m since March, and £7m has been lost on groceries, and £1.1 million lost from students not buying clothes in the town.
Durham City was ranked tenth in the UK towns that took the worst economic hit due to the pandemic. Egham in Surrey was the worst affected town, having made losses of £18.3m during the pandemic.
Students make up 40% of the population of Durham City. Studee’s research indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic economic impact on towns with large student populations.
Retailers including Topshop, M&Co, Hotter, Cotswold Outdoor, EE and Dicksons on Silver Street have shut their doors permanently in Durham City since lockdown began, which has left at least 33 retail units in the City Centre empty.
Laura Rettie, Vice-President of Studee, said: “It’s no wonder the government has been so keen to get students back to university, despite the fact mass movement of young people during a pandemic probably isn’t the wisest course of action.
“Students bring a huge amount of money into the areas they choose to study in – money many small towns simply can’t afford to lose.
“Students have recently been blamed for coronavirus outbreaks, but we shouldn’t be using students as scapegoats when it was the government who urged them to get back to campus, with no clear guidance about studying online instead.
“Sadly for many university towns across the country the economic pain is likely to be felt for many years to come.”
Image: Billy Wilson via Flickr