Fears for Wales supermarket fashion on essentials-only rule in new lockdown
The UK’s supermarket clothing retailers will have every right to be concerned following news that supermarkets in Wales have been told not to sell any items of clothing during the country’s new 17-day lockdown, which began on Friday.
Although the Welsh government has promised to review that decision after a petition attracted tens of thousands of signatures and opposition politicians condemned the rule as crazy, for now, the regulation stands.
Wales first minister Mark Drakeford had said it will be “made clear” to supermarkets they’re only able to sell products that are classed as “essential goods”. That means clothing items are off-limits to shoppers and some stores have covered shelves in plastic or erected barriers to stop shoppers accessing them.
Drakeford said the move will create a “level playing field” for retailers forced to close stores during the pandemic. But this will come as a hammer blow to the producers and retailers of popular clothing lines sold in supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s Tu brand, Asda’s George label, Tesco’s F&F and Nutmeg by Morrisons.
However, that worry could grow if such a ban was to be extended to the rest of the UK’s supermarkets should total lockdowns be expanded.
The Welsh parliament ban came after Conservative politician Russell George claimed it was “unfair” to force independent clothing and hardware retailers to close while similar goods were on sale in supermarkets.
Drakeford said people had been “reasonably understanding” of the limitations on supermarkets during the first lockdown. However, he added: “I don’t think that people will be as understanding this time, and we will be making it clear to supermarkets that they are only able to open those parts of their business that provide essential goods to people”.
From Friday, all non-essential Welsh retail is closed, including clothes and furniture stores. Shops allowed to remain open include supermarkets and other food retailers, pharmacies, banks and post offices.
Under the law, firms conducting a business that provide a mixed set of services will be allowed to open if they cease conducting the non-essential service.
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