In March last year, just as the UK was about to enter its first lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a one-year holiday on business rates payments from high street premises.
The tax relief was aimed at helping retailers, leisure and hospitality firms that were battered by the pandemic, namely the enforced shut down of lockdowns.
However, since November, 14 retailers have agreed to return the business rates holiday relief to the government.
Howdens – £8 million
At the beginning of November last year, kitchens and hardware retailer Howdens Joinery became the first major retailer to agree to return the business rates holiday relief.
Howdens reported that sales had risen 12.3 per cent between June 14 and October 31, bolstered by rising demand for home improvement during lockdown.
It will also be repaying £22 million from the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme alongside the £8 million worth of business rates.
Howdens is classified as an essential retailer, which means it is allowed to keep its premises open for trading with customers during lockdown.
Tesco – £585 million
After initially facing backlash for paying dividends to shareholders, Tesco announced in December that it would repay £585 million of business rates relief.
Out of all the retailers that have so far agreed to return the tax relief to the government, Tesco’s contribution is the largest.
Sainsburys – £440 million
Sainsbury’s also announced in December that it would pay back the business rates relief, which was worth £440 million.
The grocer said: “Sainsbury’s sales and profits have been stronger than originally expected, particularly since the start of the second national lockdown in England and we have therefore taken the decision to forego the business rates relief on all Sainsbury’s stores.”
Asda – £340 million
Asda said it would repay £340 million of business rates relief it received during the pandemic.
Morrisons – £274 million
Morrisons subsequently announced it had “brought forward” a decision on rates relief and would pay back £274 million.
Kingfisher – £130 million
Kingfisher, which owns DIY and hardware retailers B&Q and Screwfix, said it would return £130 million in tax relief.
Like Howdens, it cited high demand for DIY during lockdown in boosting its sales.
B&Q and Screwfix’s stores were also allowed to remain open under “essential” status.
Aldi – £109 million
Aldi said it would pay back full value of the one-year business rates relief it enjoyed during the pandemic.
Lidl – £108 million
Lidl revealed it would be returning over £100 million in relief to the UK and devolved governments, saying it was “the right thing to do”.
B&M – £80 million
B&M, which is classed as “essential” due to the varied household items it sells, announced it would be forgoing £80 million of Covid-19 business rates relief and paying it back to the government,
Travis Perkins – £50 million
Pets at Home – £29 million
Pets at Home announced it would be repaying all of its £28.9 million of rates relief, despite spending an estimated £35 million on Covid-related costs this year.
Pets at Home is also classified as an “essential” retailer.
Whole Foods – £2 million
The Amazon-owned grocery chain agreed to pay £2 million worth of business rates relief from its bricks-and-mortar estate in the UK.
AO World – £30,000
Online electronics retailer AO World may not have a store estate like other firms listed here, but it still decided to return £30,000 worth of business rates back to the government.
Burberry – £5.85 million
Earlier this week, Burberry became the first non-essential retailer with a store estate to return its business rates holiday relief.
It agreed to pay the Treasury almost £6 million in business support that it automatically received amid the pandemic.
Unlike the essential retailers listed previously, Burberry’s physical stores have been shut with each of the lockdowns that have come into force across the UK.