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Lockdowns cost UK non-food retailers 22 billion pounds - BRC

By Huw Hughes

11 Feb 2021

The UK’s three lockdowns have cost non-food retailers an estimated 22 billion pounds in lost sales, according to new data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The pandemic forced non-essential retailers to close for extended periods throughout 2020 and now into 2021, with many struggling to offset losses through online channels, and hopes of recovery during the typically-busy Christmas period quashed by fresh restrictions.

Last year was the worst on record for retail sales growth as in-store non-food sales falling by 24 percent compared with 2019, while footfall plummeted 40 percent, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

More government support needed, urges BRC chief

The UK trade association is now calling on chancellor Rishi Sunak for more financial support to help retailers and prevent the “further loss of thousands of jobs in communities across the country”.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said in a statement: “After 2020 proved to be the worst year on record, 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.”

Retailers contributed 17 billion pounds in business taxes in 2019, collecting a further 46 billion pounds in VAT. “A strong retail sector is essential to ensuring these future revenue streams for Government and local councils, vital for supporting local communities,” the BRC said.

Photo credit: FashionUnited