After almost three weeks spent lobbying the government to allow non-essential retailers to re-open, trade associations were quick to signal their delight that shops will be able to open their doors again on December 2.
Speaking out for gift shops, Sarah Ward, managing director of The British Allied Trade Federation (BATF), which includes The Giftware Association, stated: “We are delighted about the announcement that non-essential shops are allowed to open, as it will be the boost our industry needs right now, and we are looking forward to seeing this growth to trade on our high streets in the safest way possible.
The #MakeRetailFair campaign, organised with independent gift shop Inside Out, which has stores in Exeter and Tavistock, will still be very much ongoing as it wasn’t just for the now, but to protect the future of indies and any further lockdowns that may occur. The industry needs to stand stronger together to avoid further disruption to businesses and communities.”
Concurred the British Independent Retailers’ Association’s (Bira’s) ceo Andrew Goodacre: “we are receiving more notice than we thought as we actually expected confirmation on Thursday November 26. Retailers will be ready and we hope that the town centres and local authorities will also have prepared to accommodate shoppers.”
Highlighting that many business – including gift shops – have fortunately been able to continue to trade online and via click and collect, he stressed: “December will be all about selling Christmas goods, and retailers will have to work hard and be creative to attract shoppers.”
He stated: “The second lockdown has had a terrible impact on independent retail – potentially more than the first one – because it is such an important time on the retail calendar. Research tells us that 20% of indies did not re-open in the summer after the first lockdown, so we will not see the full impact of this until January or February, but it could be the same again.”
Highlighting that independents need further help to survive in a challenging time, Bira is also campaigning for further support. “Cash is running out and more grants will be needed in January,” said Andrew. “We need clarity on business rates and the decision to extend the rates holiday for non-essential businesses. We need funds and expertise to help indie retailers to continue their transition to a stronger digital footprint.”
Top: As non-essential retailers get ready to re-open on December 3, the push will be on Christmas gifting.