Boris Johnson has announced that current national restrictions will be lifted on December 2nd and that non-essential retailers can reopen from that date.
The government has devised a new Covid-19 winter plan, to ensure that current national restrictions can be lifted on December 2nd. As part of the new measures, announced on Monday, non-essential retailers that had to close earlier this month will be permitted to reopen. The news comes as welcome relief for shops that have been closed for most of November, missing out on sales during the peak trading weeks in the run up to Christmas.
Restrictions will vary in different parts of the UK, depending on the Tier each region is placed in, detail that will be announced later this week. However, non-essential retail will be open in every Tier level.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “SAGE data has always highlighted that retail is a safe environment, and firms have spent hundreds of millions on safety measures including perspex screens, additional cleaning and social distancing and will continue to follow all safety guidance. As a result, customers can be reassured that retail premises are Covid-secure and safe to visit over the festive period.”
Although it was expected, members of the UK toy industry have reacted favourably to the confirmation. Andrew Laughton, senior vice president at MGA UK and chairman of the British Toy and Hobby Association, was one of the first to take to LinkedIn to say: “Toy stores to open next week! Let’s hope it’s early enough for those businesses that have been under so much pressure.” The BTHA had called upon the government to categorise toy retailers as essential during lockdown.
Retailers such as Toy Barnhaus have been making preparations for re-opening during the last few weeks. “We have been planning for December, how many staff we will need and how the online services will continue,” the team told Toy World. “We have introduced extra tills in our larger stores, meaning we can serve customers quickly and allow other customers in. We know those last 22 days will be critical, and we will do whatever we can to ensure we maximize sales during this time.”
Indeed, specialist toy retailers are poised and ready to make the most of December sales. Justine Elliot of Thornton’s Toymaster, Chippenham said: “This time round we feel more prepared for reopening, with measures already in place. We will be ready with a full team of staff and look forward to seeing all our customers in person again. We are keeping our fingers crossed for an upbeat final trading period.”
Andrew Olley of City Cycle Centre, Ely, added: “Reopening this time round should be easier since our social distancing measures are already in place and will not alarm customers, who are used to the new way of shopping. We increased our followers and contacts during the first lockdown, when we were offering local deliveries, and this relationship with our customers has proved a real asset since. It’s important not to forget the support given by shoppers to local businesses over recent months. Indies located in towns and small cities are in a unique position right now, and that’s something to feel good about.”
The BRC added that the government’s decision to keep all of retail open will help to preserve jobs. Helen Dickinson added: “Shops – from high streets to retail parks – play an integral role in the run up to Christmas. While retailers have stepped up their online delivery over the course of 2020, the bulk of Christmas shopping tends to be done in store.”