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Government urged to adopt Shop Out to Help Out scheme to save high street

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

29 Mar 2021

Last August the UK government launched the initiative Eat Out to Help Out Scheme in a bid drive traffic to cafes and restaurants during local lockdown. This year campaigners are calling for a similar proposal to save the ailing high street, with a scheme called Shop Out to Help Out.

The campaign group Save The Street, backed by notable industry persons including retail expert Mary Portas and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury, have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support the sector by offering customers 50 percent off the cost of goods at independent retailers up to a price of 10 pounds.

Save The Street says UK retailers lost 27 billion pounds of sales in the past three lockdowns as non-essential stores remain closed. Figures from the British Retail Consortium show 67,000 retail jobs were lost between December 2019 and 2020.

Like the restaurant scheme, Shop Out to Help Out would see the Government reimburse retailers for the discount, with customers only able to use it once per transaction. The initiative scheme could run for one month this summer with discounts available to shoppers from Monday to Wednesday only, and limited to independent enterprises with fewer than 10 employees that sell through physical stores.

Retail technology entrepreneur and founder of Save The Street Ross Bailey said: “We would be kidding ourselves to think that everything will be fine for independent retailers once they reopen on April 12.”

The damage has been done

“The damage has been done over the last 12 months, now it is the Government’s responsibility to support these businesses and ensure they are given a fighting chance to bounce back.”

“Independent retail is the heart and soul of communities across the UK. If the Government doesn’t support them now, it won’t just bankrupt thousands of businesses, it will irrevocably damage the society we all live in.”

Ms Portas said: “Covid-19 has chipped away at the brilliant diversity of our high streets up and down our country.”

“We need to act now and harness the support, need and love that people have for our high streets.”

“These local businesses during the pandemic have held our communities together. A scheme like this will bring a vital lease of life back to the places that mean so much to us all.”

British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “We know the Eat Out to Help Out scheme really brought customers back to hospitality venues last summer, and we are sure that a similar initiative for retail would have the same effect. Much of retail has borne the brunt of this pandemic and this scheme would help give a much-needed boost to high streets and consumer confidence.”

Image: Save The Street