Nov 17, 2020
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Extend English lockdown and stores businesses will fail say major retailers

Nov 17, 2020

Warnings that a lockdown extension in England could hasten permanent store closures have been levelled by a host of deeply concerned retailers. A group of over 60 leading UK retailers have said stores that aren’t allowed to trade before Christmas may shut for good.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The group, which includes Burberry, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer, has called for all retailers to be able to open by the start of December.

The warning comes as the group estimates non-essential retailers are currently losing £2 billion a week of pre-Christmas sales.

In the letter to the Times, the retailers said the closure of non-essential stores under the national lockdown in England had put “hundreds of thousands of retail jobs at risk” and was threatening to sink businesses.

“A continued period of retail closure will see more shuttered high streets and many more job losses at the heart of the festive season,” the letter read.

It said its view was backed by a recent paper from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which claimed that closing non-essential shops would have a minimal impact on the spread of coronavirus.

“Retailers have invested hundreds of millions in making their stores Covid-secure, keeping both customers and staff safe,” the letter read.

“Yet retail stands on the brink, and decisive government action is needed to save it. Retailers of all shapes and sizes must be allowed to reopen by the start of December.”

November and December account for more than 20% of total annual retail sales, the group said, with the closures depriving non-essential businesses of around £2bn each week in sales.

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