Fifth of Independent Retailers Will Not Open After Lockdown

Fifth of Independent Retailers Will Not Open After Lockdown

According to reports, chief executive of trade body the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), Andrew Goodacre told MPs that 20% of retailers surveyed by BIRA claimed they do not intend to reopen after the lockdown.

Speaking to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, he described the pandemic as the “worst time ever for retail” and added “For those even saying they would look to reopen, there is a huge caveat about the level of trade on whether they would continue to reopen.

“If the footfall is impacted and social distancing exists and they find it hard to meet needs of customers and workers, it would be more expensive to reopen than to stay closed.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told the committee that 69% of non-food retailers have been “significantly” impacted by coronavirus.

She added: “There is no way that anybody is expecting that demand will revert to what it was before – there will be a slow gearing back up.

“What implementing social distancing will mean is that normal capacity to serve customers will be restricted and, certainly from a public perspective, I have no doubt that people will be very cautious about how they shop, for safety reasons and because of pressure on money in their pockets.”

Dickinson requested that the Government not “turn off the tap” of financial support for businesses, calling for tapered support as customer demand starts to recover.

During the pandemic lockdown, The UK Government has launched a Covid-19 package of initiatives including loans for businesses such as the large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, as well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which covers 80% of workers' pay; tax deferrals; cash grants; and covering the cost of statutory sick pay.

However, according to Goodacre, only 20% of BIRA members have attempted to access the loans available as they “don’t see debt as the solution”, with just 20% of these applications securing cash support.

Speaking yesterday evening (April 30) at the Downing Street press conference, prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK was “pass the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak and announced he would release a “comprehensive plan” next week on how his government plans to restart the economy and offer guidance for schools and businesses on how to reopen.

Author: Siobhan Holt

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