One in five high street stores may never reopen
By Sarah Wood | 1st May 2020
A fifth of high street stores plan to stay closed permanently after the coronavirus lockdown ends. That's the stark warning from retail leaders to MPs.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), told MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that the coronavirus crisis had been the worst time ever for retail in the UK, as reported by Retail Gazette.
He said 20 per cent of retailers surveyed by Bira don't intend to reopen after lockdown restrictions are relaxed. And even for those planning to reopen, there are concerns about the level of trade while social distancing measures continue. If customers continue to stay away and social distancing is kept in place, he told MPs that some retailers may find it more expensive to open their stores than to stay closed.
Non-essential retailers have now been closed for almost six weeks.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told MPs that 69 per cent of non-food retailers have been hit hard by the virus. She warned that demand will very slowly gear up to what it was before the lockdown, with customers cautious about safely while shopping and also concerned about spending money.
She called on the government to continue to offer tapered support to retailers over a longer period of time, as customer demand slowly gets back to normal.
Support measures for retailers announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak include a one-year business rates holiday, the job retention scheme, VAT payment deferrals, and business interruption loans.
But Bira said only 20 per cent of its members have applied for business interruption loans because they don't see debt as the answer.
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