// BRC says closure of non-essential retailers during second lockdown “will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas”
// Comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces second lockdown to take place from Thursday November 5
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has described the retail industry as facing “a nightmare before Christmas” after the Government on Saturday announced a second lockdown would take place in November.
Speaking to the nation on Saturday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week lockdown in England, starting on Thursday November 5.
Johnson said the second national lockdown would prevent a “medical and moral disaster” for the NHS, adding that Christmas may be “very different”, but he hoped taking action now would mean families can gather.
Non-essential retailers, restaurants, pubs and gyms will close for four weeks from Thursday.
After December 2, the restrictions are currently set to ease, with regions then going back into their tier systems.
“Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together,” Johnson said.
Under the new measures, supermarkets, DIY shops, garden centres and other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.
Takeaways and non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.
The news comes at a crucial time of year for the retail industry, which would typically be ramping up its operations for peak trading, usually due to start mid-way through November.
“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 favourites shops and brands,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“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, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus,” Dickinson added.
Dickinson added that a recent Sage paper had reported closing non-essential retailers would have minimal impact on the transmission of coronavirus because of the investment retailers had made making sure their stores are coronavirus-secure for colleagues and customers.
“The announced closure will have a significant economic impact on the viability of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. 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,” Dickinson argued.
“We have no doubt that retailers will comply with the rules and play their part to ensure the British public can remain safe and have access to the goods they need. Nonetheless, Government must also play its part, providing support to businesses that will be forced to close, otherwise the consequences for local retail will be dire,” Dickinson added.