The High Street has taken a huge financial hit during the pandemic and remained closed for the first quarter of 2021. The British Retail Consortium estimates that non-essential retail stores lost around £22bn in sales in 2020 due to lockdown measures, as footfall declined by 40% and when shops are finally able to reopen on 12th April, some town centres might resemble ghost towns. Independent shops in particular, were hit hard as they faced prolonged closures and restrictions and since many lack a strong online presence.
Now a new campaign (‘Save The Street’) is calling for an initiative, similar to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – this time designed to save Britain’s independent high street shops.
Shop Out to Help Out
Campaigners behind ‘Save The Street’ are suggesting that the Government should cover 50% of a shopper’s costs, up to £10, from Monday to Wednesdays for a month and would only apply at physical stores with fewer than 10 staff.
So far the scheme’s high-profile backers include Mary Portas, Charlotte Tilbury, Nick Wheeler (owner of Charles Tyrwhitt), Chrissie Rucker (owner of The White Company) and British Fashion Council chair Caroline Rush. They believe independent retailers won’t survive without it.
The Treasury has not commented on whether it would pursue the idea, but a spokesman said: “We’ve supported retailers across the UK though out the outbreak, protecting millions of jobs – and will continue to do so in the months ahead. Shops won’t pay any business rates until July, can continue to furlough staff until September, and are receiving Restart Grants of up to £6,000.”