UK high street prepares to fight back as the PM says they can’t open until April
As the Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his long-awaited lockdown exit strategy on Monday, February 22, the retail industry was left reeling when it was announced that non-essential retail will have to remain shut until at least April 12, the same as hairdressers, pubs and gyms. Retailers called on the Prime Minister to stick to his plan of relying on ‘data not dates’ so that shops can reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
The British Retail Consortium revealed that non-food shops have lost a staggering £22 billion since the beginning of the pandemic, and that if the restrictions aren’t lifted on the sector very soon the continued ‘heavy impact’ means that many businesses may not reopen at all.
The British Retail Consortium’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson said: ‘We welcome the additional clarity provided by the Prime Minister. While we are encouraged by a plan for non-essential stores to reopen, the heavy impact of the pandemic means some may never be able to.
‘The cost of lost sales to non-food stores during lockdown is now over £22billion and counting. Every day that a shop remains closed increases the chances that it will never open again – costing jobs and damaging local communities.’
She added: ‘Non-essential shops are ready to reopen and have been investing hundreds of millions on making themselves Covid-secure.
‘Government should remain flexible and allow non-essential retail to reopen as soon as the data suggests it is safe to do so. Until it is permitted, retailers will need continued support from Government.
Ms Dickinson also called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ‘relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay’ and urged him to formally announce a targeted business rates relief from April and extend the moratorium on debt enforcement to avoid any more job losses.
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