Feb 11, 2021
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Lockdowns have cost UK non-food retailers £22bn, BRC urges more government support

Feb 11, 2021

Consumers may have shifted their non-essentials spend online at a fast pace during lockdown, but the web channel hasn't been able to fill all of the gap caused by the closure of physical shops. 

Lockdowns have devastated UK retail - Photo: Jamie Musialek/Pixabay

And the British Retail Consortium on Thursday called for government action on news that non-essential retailers have lost £22 billion in sales as a result of the stores being forced to stay shut.

The BRC said its figures show revenues at non-food shops plummeted 24% in 2020 with a 40% plunge in footfall. And many retailers are unlikely to ever make up for those lost sales.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “It is essential that the Chancellor uses the spring budget to support those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Vital support in the form of an extension to the business rates relief and moratorium on debt enforcement, as well as removing state aid caps on Covid business grants, would relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay and allow them to trade their way to recovery.

“Tackling the challenge of rates, rents and grants should be the government’s immediate priority to ensuring the survival and revival of non-essential retailers and protecting the jobs of hundreds of thousands of retail workers across the country.

“The investment we provide to retailers now will be repaid many times over through more jobs and greater tax revenues in the future.”

Meanwhile, Local Data Company figures quoted by The Telegraph show that central London has suffered more than any other area, something that is particularly worrying given how big a contribution it makes to overall non-essential retail turnover in Britain. In fact, LDC said that the number of empty commercial units in the financial district, the City of London, in particular is up by 47% as the office workers on which it depends are nowhere to be seen.

The figures said that specialist shirt-makers have faced one of the biggest problems in the City as people work from home and their need to buy such products disappears.

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