The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that the latest national lockdown in England will have severe consequences for many businesses.
Following last night’s announcement (January 4) by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that businesses including non-essential retailers and those in the leisure and hospitality sectors must remain closed until mid-February, in order to help control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Helen Dickinson (pictured), chief executive of the BRC, said: “The continued rise in COVID cases over the Christmas period is a significant cause for concern, and we understand the need for the Government to act.
“Retailers have been playing their part to make stores safe, spending hundreds of millions of pounds on coronavirus safety measures, including implementing social distancing measures and increased cleaning procedures.
“The Government's testing programme and a rapid roll-out of vaccines are the key to bringing an end to this cycle of lockdowns, and we have made clear to the Government that the retail industry is willing to make its resources available to support this effort.”
She added: "The consequences of these latest restrictions – with non-essential retail already closed for several weeks – will be severe for many businesses who yet again face losing £2bn per week in sales. Already, 178,000 retail jobs have been lost in 2020, and with over 250,000 retail staff currently on furlough, that number could increase dramatically in the new year.
"Retailers want to trade their way to recovery but if they are forced to close then further financial support will be needed or many businesses will go bust and thousands of viable jobs will be lost. The biggest difference the Government can make is to extend business rates relief from April for those hardest hit by repeated lockdowns."