But in a sign of how desperate the feeling in the sector is, 61 chief executive’s have written an open letter to the government demanding that the current lockdown in England is not extended beyond its current date of December 2nd.
The signatories including the bosses of Marks and Spencer, Dixons Carphone and JD Sports say that November and December make up 20% of annual retails sales and any extension could result in “hundreds of thousands of job losses across the sector”.
As well as more clarity around the plans for December reopening, they are urging for Sunday trading hours to be extended in the run-up to Christmas to help make up for lost sales and increased demand from frustrated customers.
Helen Dickson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “To avoid local communities being hit hard by large scale shop closures and job losses, the chancellor must address three issues - rents, rates and reopening.
“The government should extend the rent moratorium, giving essential breathing space to allow negotiations between retailers and landlords to continue.
“It must ensure retailers do not face an £8 billion rates bill in 2021 and it must ensure shops can reopen from the start of December as the all-important Christmas shopping period gets into full swing.”
The letter reads in full:-
Sir, With less than two weeks to go until the chancellor’s spending review, it is vital that retailers get the clarity they need over the future. Christmas is fast-approaching and half of retail has been forced to shut – depriving these stores of around £2bn per week in sales.
November and December account for over a fifth of all retail sales and if all shops are not allowed to reopen by the start of December, many stores may never reopen putting hundreds of thousands of retail jobs at risk. A continued period of retail closure will see more shuttered high streets and many more job losses at the heart of the festive season.
Government reports have noted that the closure of shops would have a minimal impact on the transmission of Covid. Retailers have invested hundreds of millions in making their stores Covid-secure, keeping both customers and staff safe.
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. Without this, there will be little festive cheer left on our high streets.
Even with the added protection of safety in numbers, it’s still unusual for so many high-level executives to put their heads above the parapet and speak out collectively about public policy.
It also indicates the level of nervousness and worry in the sector that even if the national lockdown is lifted, it could be replaced by local lockdowns that could be just as restrictive to retail, hospitality and other businesses labeled as “non-essential” and subsequent to closure orders.
We can advise you on what steps you can take to improve your chances of making it into 2021 in good shape and ready to resume profitable trading when everyday life begins to resemble something like normal again.