Sittingbourne has been rated as the country's third 'most resilient small town' during the pandemic, in new research by London-based retail consultancy CWM.
222 towns were analysed in the study by retail consultancy CWM, with Yate (near Bristol) scoring the highest rating followed by Spalding (in Lincolnshire) and then Sittingbourne closely followed by Tonbridge here in Kent.
Jonathan De Mello, who leads CWM's retail consultancy team said Sittingbourne had come out well in the research as it had "lots of professionals nearby" and "more essential retail than most and was less exposed to decline".
All retail centres had suffered during 2020, with the worst annual sales performances on record, more than 16,000 store closures and nearly 180,000 retail jobs lost in the UK over the past year.
The Leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Roger Truelove, told SFM News: "It is always welcome to see one of our towns near the top of a league table. Nobody would suggest all is wonderful but this is us compared with 221 other small towns, all suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic. I am not surprised that we are in a more resilient state than most. It is nothing to do with the Spirit of Sittingbourne project. More relevant is the strong concentration of supermarkets in Sittingbourne and the fact they have been well used over the last year. An added factor, too, is the fact that so many people are working from home and likely to spend more in the town than when they were travelling to London to work. In this there is great opportunity for the future with people working from home and buying their lunch in town and using the improved opportunities for leisure".