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Retail CEOs Say Retail Must "Reopen By Start Of December"

Closed shop Covid shutterstock_1691556811.jpg

Over sixty leading retail CEOs wrote to The Times today [14th November] to voice concerns about the impact of the forced closure of “non-essential” retailers during the current lockdown.

These closures come despite a recent Sage paper reporting that closing ‘non-essential’ retail would have minimal impact on the transmission of Covid.

The letter to The Times, signed by sixty-one retail CEOs:

Sir, With less than two weeks to go until the Chancellor’s Spending Review it is vital that retailers get the clarity they need over the future. Christmas is fast-approaching and half of retail has been forced to shut – depriving these stores of around £2 billion per week in sales.

November and December account for over a fifth of all retail sales and if all shops are not allowed to reopen by the start of December, many stores may never reopen putting hundreds of thousands of retail jobs at risk. A continued period of retail closure will see more shuttered high streets and many more job losses at the heart of the festive season.

Government reports have noted that the closure of shops would have a minimal impact on the transmission of Covid. Retailers have invested hundreds of millions in making their stores Covid-secure, keeping both customers and staff safe.

Yet retail stands on the brink and decisive Government action is needed to save it. Retailers of all shapes and sizes must be allowed to reopen by the start of December. Without this, there will be little festive cheer left on our high streets.

In the first few days of lockdown, data from BRC-ShopperTrak showed that Footfall plummeted 75%.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said:

“The closure of thousands of retailers is compounding the challenges facing our high streets. ‘Non-essential’ stores are estimated to be losing £2 billion per week during lockdown – yet rents continue to mount, and the business rates cliff edge is looming. All the while, Government reports show the impact of closures on Covid transmission is low.

“To avoid local communities being hit hard by large scale shop closures and job losses, the Chancellor must address three issues – Rents, Rates and Reopening. Government should extend the rents moratorium, giving essential breathing space to allow negotiations between retailers and landlords to continue. They must ensure retailers do not face an £8bn rates bill from 2021. And they must ensure shops can reopen from the start of December as the all-important Christmas shopping period gets into full swing.”

Source : BRC

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16 November 2020

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