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Throughout the pandemic, Tenterden has been particularly active in supporting its local retailers – and now a major survey of 1,000 shopping locations across the UK, has ranked the town at number three, ahead of all other destinations in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.


The HDH Vitality Ranking survey, compiled by leading retail experts and analysts Harper Dennis Hobbs, researches the health of high streets and shopping centres, including vacancy rates and suitability to local consumers’ demands.


The report notes that commuter-belt towns such as Tenterden “have outperformed city centre destinations as consumers’ shopping habits have become very localised as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”.


Says Keli Nolan-Lyons, who was appointed Tenterden Town Centre and Tourism Co-ordinator by the Town Council last August: “This is absolutely fantastic news, and is a tribute to everyone in our community who has worked so hard to support our local retailers.


“We understand that the pandemic has radically changed people’s shopping habits. But this is such a positive outlook as we emerge into brighter times, and reinforces the message that Tenterden is a destination like no other.


“Our local traders, Tenterden Town Council and Ashford Borough Council have all worked incredibly hard to help our High Street stay vibrant and alive, and it is noteworthy that, despite all the challenges, we actually have new businesses opening up in the town.”


In his commentary on the HDH Vitality Ranking survey, head of retail consultancy Andy Metherell said: “The most vital retail centres currently provide services which are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies.


“These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of the major destinations.”