Shops and other businesses in the city centre lost 32 weeks of sales between the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and the onset of Omicron, states a report from the national research group Centre for Cities.
Basildon’s centre lost the fewest weeks of sales (21 weeks) in the East of England during the pandemic.
Nationally, Peterborough is ranked 29 place for the heaviest city centre sales losses during the health crisis.
Across the country, Covid-19 has cost businesses in city and large town centres 35 per cent of their potential takings since March 2020, with central London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff worst affected.
Not surprisingly, lost sales have also been linked to an increase in business closures.
Of the 52 city and town centres studied by the researchers, 2,426 commercial units have become vacant during the pandemic, against 1,374 between 2018 and 2020.
In Peterborough the number of empty store fronts rose by 5.4 percentage points while in Cambridge city centre the number of empty storefronts increased by around 3.8 percentage points as sales fell.
However, the report also states that while stronger city centres, like Peterborough, have borne the economic brunt of the pandemic, their higher levels of affluence mean that with the end of restrictions and if office workers return to the centre, they will likely recover quickly.
Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “While the pandemic has been a tough time for all high streets it has levelled down more prosperous cities and towns in the East of England.
“Despite this, the strength of their wider local economies means they are well placed to recover quickly from the past two years.
Mr Carter added: “The bigger concern is for economically weaker places – primarily in the North and Midlands – where Covid-19 has actually paused their long-term decline.
“To help them avoid a wave of high street closures this year the Government must set out how it plans to increase people’s skills and pay to give them the income needed to sustain a thriving high street.
“Many of these places are in the so-called Red Wall so there is a political imperative for the Government to act fast, as well as an economic one.”