BRC welcomes retail reopening but warns some stores 'never will'

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed Boris Johnson's announcement that retail shops will reopen on 12 April, but has warned that some stores will "never be able to."

The prime minister said that the "roadmap to freedom" would be "cautious but irreversible," and that each stage would be driven by "data not dates," meaning the April date could be changed over the coming months.

“The cost of lost sales to non-food stores during lockdown is now over £22bn and counting,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive, BRC. “Every day that a shop remains closed increases the chances that it will never open again - costing jobs and damaging local communities.”

The BRC chief exec said that non-essential shops are ready to reopen, having invested hundreds of millions on making themselves “Covid-secure.”

She said that the government should “remain flexible” and allow non-essential retail to reopen as soon as the data suggests it is safe to do so.

“Until it is permitted, retailers will need continued support from Government. We welcome the PM’s call ‘not to pull the rug out’ from under businesses,” said Dickinson. “To this end, the Government must act on three vital issues – rents, rates and grants.

She concluded: “To avoid further job losses and permanent job closures, the Chancellor must announce a targeted business rates relief from April and extend the moratorium on debt enforcement, as well as removing state aid caps on Covid business grants. This would relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay and allow them to trade their way to recovery.”

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