The Prime Minister has announced that non-essential stores in England can reopen next month, in what retailers hope will provide a lifeline for the high street in the run-up to Christmas.
In a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon, Boris Johnson confirmed that stores that were forced to close during the coronavirus lockdown this month will be able to reopen from 2 December.
While many consumers have begun shopping online while stores were closed in the lead up to the festive season, retailers hope the reopening of physical stores will release a surge in pent-up demand.
According to the latest figures, retail footfall was down more than 50 per cent in England last week, with central London bearing the brunt of the decline.
Footfall in the capital plummeted 80.4 per cent, in what would usually be one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said retailers will be “relieved” following Johnson’s announcement.
“ SAGE data has always highlighted that retail is a safe environment, and firms have spent hundreds of millions on safety measures including perspex screens, additional cleaning, and social distancing and will continue to follow all safety guidance,” Dickinson said.
“As a result, customers can be reassured that retail premises are Covid-secure and safe to visit over the festive period.
“Shops – from high streets to retail parks – play an integral role in the run up to Christmas. While retailers have stepped up their online delivery over the course of 2020, the bulk of Christmas shopping tends to be done in store. The Government’s decision to keep all of retail open will help to preserve jobs and the economy and help keep Christmas a festive occasion for everyone.”
More to follow