© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a mask walks past a retailer boarding a plane in Preston
By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – After more than three months of forced shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UK non-essential stores reopened on Monday, hoping that exiting the lockdown will Drive the transaction boom.
The industry lobbying group, the British Retail Consortium, estimates stores in the UK have lost £ 27 billion ($ 37 billion) in revenue after three locks, while 67,000 retail jobs have been cut. in 2020.
About 17,532 chain stores disappeared from streets, shopping malls and retail parks across the UK last year, according to researcher Local Data Company data for accounting firm PwC.
But with more than half of the UK’s adult population already receiving at least one of the two doses, analysts don’t think buyers will keep.
Market researcher Kantar forecasts that consumers will spend £ 3.9 billion ($ 5.3 billion) on high-end streets in the first week of reopening.
Simon Wolfson, CEO of fashion retailer Next, told Reuters: “There was definitely a bounce at the end of last year (in June), I would be surprised if the same didn’t happen again.
Many shopping areas will look very different from their pre-pandemic condition. A variety of chains, including fashion retailers Topshop, Topman, Burton, Oasis and Laura Ashley, which have been together for decades, won’t be there – the high casualties of a crisis already photographed. affect the field.
Eight John Lewis stores will not reopen and Debenhams will only reopen for the final sale.
British non-essential stores have been closed since January 4 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a third lockdown order to prevent an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Non-essential retail will also reopen in Wales on Monday, although stores in Scotland will have to wait until at least April 26th. Northern Ireland still hasn’t had a date yet.
DEMANDS FOR CRAZY
Getting shoppers back to spending is key to Britain’s recovery after official data last month showed 2020 as its worst year for its economy in more than three centuries.
Customer feedback may be more pronounced than it was in June last year, analysts say.
“Lockdowns clearly improve the average household’s P&L and many will think they won’t go on vacation overseas this year. Shoppers have money to spend and spend,” analysts said. most people haven’t been shopping for fashion for almost two years. ” at Peel Hunt.
Roger Whiteside, CEO of bakery Greggs, thinks the sector will benefit from pent-up demand.
While Greggs stores are allowed to trade through the latest lockout, he is hoping to boost high street traffic from easing restrictions.
“There will be queues outside of the stores that people cannot easily access online, so Primark is a prime example,” he said.
To help the sector cope with the challenge of social exclusion regulations, which are expected to remain until June 21, the government will allow extended opening times. It said last month that stores could be open until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
($ 1 = £ 0.7294)