Written by: Keith Tully
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that many of its members are facing something close to a “nightmare before Christmas” as the festive period approaches but trading conditions remain extraordinarily challenging, particularly for high street operators.
Thousands of shops are closing as the UK heads into a second national lockdown in response to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with non-essential retailers having been told they must close for almost a month at least.
For high street retailers, the timing could hardly have been worse with Christmas on the horizon and shops typically seeing increases in footfall and sales during the final few months of the year.
Understandably, after an exceptionally tough year, trade bodies like the BRC are worried about what the second lockdown might mean for high street retailers and their employees.
“Retail faces a nightmare before Christmas as the government proposes to close thousands of retail premises under this new national lockdown, denying customers access to many of their favourite shops and brands,” said Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive.
“It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy,” she said.
Ms Dickinson went on to insist that the decision to instruct non-essential shops to close their doors for several weeks will have “only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus”.
“The previous lockdown cost ‘non-essential’ shops £1.6 billion a week in lost sales; now that we are entering the all-important Christmas shopping period, these losses are certain to be much bigger,” she noted.
The BRC has said that retailers will play their part in the battle against coronavirus and will comply with relevant rules outlined by government but will clearly need financial support in order to survive what looks certain to be an extremely difficult winter.
“Government must play its part, providing support to businesses that will be forced to close, otherwise the consequences for local retail will be dire,” Ms Dickson said in her recent statements.
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