Retailers of all sizes must not take any chances if they fear they may be the target of further attacks on the UK’s streets tonight, according to Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) CEO James Lowman.
The convenience retail representative told Retail Gazette this afternoon that companies either caught up in riots - or those who potentially could be - should adopt a safety-first mentality.
Hundreds of stores across many parts of London and in communities in Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and other cities have been damaged and/or looted as part of widespread civil unrest across the country over the last three nights.
Lowman revealed today that 54 stores within the ASC have either been directly damaged or robbed in the riots, or indirectly affected due to wholesalers being unable to supply them with products.
“Our main message is that people are more important than property so don’t take any chances,” he said.
“If shop owners are in doubt, close the store and get away.”
Retailers that have suffered damage to property during the troubles have also been urged to make insurance claims “as soon as possible” to ensure they can recover costs.
In a statement published today law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) said that most insurers require claims for riot damage to be made within seven days to ensure they are not rejected.
Under the Riots (Damages) Act 1886 (RDA) insurance companies can make the claim on the policy holder’s name against the police, but for this to work the request must be made within 14 days of the damage occurring.
Even businesses that do not have property insurance can make a claim to recover their losses directly from the police under the RDA.
Stuart White, Partner at RPC, said: “Riots have caused millions of pounds worth of damage over the last few days. Businesses that have suffered riot damage should notify their insurer as soon as possible so as to avoid being left without insurance cover. Any delay is an unnecessary risk.”
“Some independent retail units have been completely destroyed by the rioters, making them dependent on recovering the value of the damage to start trading again.
“The good news for some of the smaller retail units that have been damaged is that even if they do not have a property insurance policy they may be able to recover the value of any damage sustained because of the rioting directly from the police.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said today that there will be 16,000 police patrolling London tonight, an increase of 10,000 on last night.
Lowman called the move “a step in the right direction” to protect the capital, but he remains concerned about the impact the riots will have on small traders.
“The images of local community stores being looted and destroyed by violent criminals are sickening,” he commented.
“Most urban areas in London and elsewhere are safe and will remain so, but retailers need to keep in contact with each other and local people to get the earliest warning of any impending problems.”