Retailers need several weeks’ notice to reopen, BRC warns

Alok Sharma BRC PPE NHS Covid-19
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson urged business secretary Alok Sharma to ensure that ministers offer public support for non-food retailers' return to trading
// BRC warns government that retailers need weeks’ notice to plan the reopening of stores
// Retailers will need to secure PPE for staff so planning is needed beforehand

The BRC has warned the government that retailers will need several weeks’ notice to plan the reopening of shops to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff in the wake of coronavirus.

The trade organisation wrote to business secretary Alok Sharma to highlight the logistical considerations the retail sector is likely to face once the lockdown is lifted, Sky News reported.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson urged Sharma to ensure that ministers offer public support for non-food retailers’ return to trading in order “to stimulate consumer demand”.


Meanwhile, retailers are anticipating to hear any changes to guidance from the government about whether shopworkers will be asked to wear PPE, as the NHS struggles to provide sufficient quantities to frontline workers.

The BRC, whose members employ 1.5 million people across the UK, said retailers were ready to be “flexible and could reduce or increase opening hours to support wider needs”.

The letter to Sharma also highlighted that normal trading conditions could be indefinitely delayed as a result of the pandemic.

Moreover, on Wednesday environment secretary George Eustice was on a call with a number of retailers to discuss related issues.

The pandemic has majorly affected retailers, particularly fashion and non-essential services.

However, large supermarkets have seen their sales rise as a result of customers panic buying in recent weeks.

Since the lockdown was announced in late March, Cath Kidston, Debenhams, BrightHouse, Laura Ashley and Oasis & Warehouse have collapsed into administration.

Most recently, B&Q decided to reopen a handful of its stores on a trial basis with social distancing measures enforced after initially closing them all down due to the lockdown.

Although classified as an essential retailer, B&Q decided to suspend in-store operations and focus on online orders.

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  1. What absolute nonsense. Several weeks notice to open? The BRC certainly doesn’t speak for any small independent retailers like me, I could open tomorrow if given the go ahead.

  2. We are IT sales and service in a retail environment who could quite easily implement social distancing measures for staff and customers, are we allowed to reopen, nobody seems to know. Our business is listed at companies House as an IT service provider.


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