PM announces re-opening of retail on 2 Dec

The government is set to allow non-essential retailers in England to reopen their doors following the end of the nationwide lockdown on 2 December.

In an announcement to MPs this afternoon, prime minister Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a return to a ‘three tier system’ of restrictions in a bid to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

The announcement that non-essential shops will be able to re-open in time for the crucial Christmas trading period will come as a relief for retailers who had feared further enforced closures could spell the end of their High Street presence.

Retailers were told to close non-essential shops on 5 November.

Last week, more than 60 retail CEOs backed a warning from the British Retail Consortium that the second lockdown risked pushing many businesses to the point of no return, and demanded greater clarity on when restrictions would lift in advance of the Christmas shopping period.

According to BBC News, while a number of tiers are set to feature tougher restrictions than pre-lockdown arrangements, all non-essential shops and gyms are to be allowed to re-open.

Pubs and restaurants are also expected to be given permission to extend opening hours, with final orders allowed until 10pm and businesses not required to close until 11pm.

Sunday newspapers also reported that Johnson is expected to announce plans in the coming days for a 3-5 day loosening or ‘amnesty’ of restrictions over the Christmas period, so that families can meet to celebrate, before a re-introduction of stricter measures to contain a potential rise in Coronavirus cases.

Commenting on the move, Hayley-Jayne Cone, chief customer officer at experiential relationship management company JRNI said: “It is great news for shoppers and retailers alike that all shops can reopen their doors on 2 December. However, the reality of being able to do this smoothly and safely is not straightforward. Queues and crowds will need to be avoided as shoppers rush out and relish in some pre-Christmas retail therapy.

“While the numbers show that many presents have been bought online during lockdown, there are still very many items that shoppers prefer to shop in person for. For instance, stocking fillers, as the cost of postage is often cost-prohibitive, and high-ticket items like jewellery, lingerie, cosmetics and clothing.

“Blending options like shopping by appointment and virtual queuing slots, along with omnichannel models like kerbside pickups will ensure shoppers and staff enjoy a safe, smooth experience in the run up to Christmas.”

In a statement last week, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Retailers are now holding their breath on the Government’s plans for rents, rates and reopening.

“With shops closed for November, many will struggle to pay rents from 1 January, when the moratorium ends, and it is essential that government extends this to allow for successful negotiations between retailers and landlords.”

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