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Additional two-week delay in opening is another costly blow for ‘non-essential’ retailers as price of lockdown mounts

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The government’s plan for non-essential retailers to open stores from 15 June has been met with dismay by many retailers – with the another two weeks of lost revenue being viewed by many as make or break.

With outdoor markets and car showrooms – along with ‘essential’ Homebase, B&Q, Matalan and Boots – all opening on 1 June, the rest of retail has been told it must wait at least another two weeks. This delay is likely to cost non-food and non-essential retailers both financially and in terms of stock.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), lockdown is already costing non-Food retailers dearly – around £1.8 billion per week.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, says: “Many retailers are eagerly looking forward to reopening stores from 15th June in order to meet the needs of their customers. Lockdown has cost non-food stores £1.8bn a week in lost revenues and with sales expected to remain weak, even as shops begin to reopen, many retailers will still be in a fight for survival. Government must act to ensure that retail rents take account of the ongoing crisis in the industry. Swift action would protect jobs and businesses – helping retail to play its part in restarting the UK economy.” 

There is also the issue of costs associated with not being able to clear out-of-season stock, as well as the delay putting many retailers on the back foot. Sofie Willmott, Lead Retail Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, explains: “Non-essential retailers whose stores have been closed for almost 10 weeks already, now cannot open until mid-June resulting in another two weeks’ of missed sales and two weeks less to clear through summer stock which has already been off limits for a significant chunk of its selling period.

She continues: “The warm weather in recent weeks would have been the ideal opportunity for clothing & footwear retailers to sell through their spring summer ranges but stores being shut for a longer period than anticipated will add to the swathes of discounting we can expect when branches reopen. Clothing & footwear is set to be the sector hardest hit by COVID-19 with offline clothing & footwear spend set to plummet over 40% this year.”

According to Willmott, this doesn’t help beleaguered clothing and footwear retailers, already fearing that they are not top of most consumers’ shopping lists in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.

She says: “Non-food retailers that have been able to open stores already will have a head start on those selling clothing, footwear, electricals and books, both in terms of taking sales and adjusting to the new health & safety measures required. Clothing & footwear is probably not at the top of most consumers’ shopping lists considering the absence of social occasions but given they can spend in garden centres and home stores already; clothing & footwear retailers are at a disadvantage.”

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