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Coronavirus: 'A fifth of independents may not reopen'

A fifth of UK independent retailers may not reopen post the coronavirus crisis, a survey from Bira (the British Independent Retailers Association) has found. 

A survey of 236 Bira members, completed last week, found that 20% indicated they may not reopen once lockdown is lifted. 

Bira chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “A larger issue is that many members who want to reopen are concerned about the impact of social distancing on trade, and that may limit the ability to run the business profitably during the transition period from lockdown.

“As a result Bira is asking the government taper the reduction of the support offered, through ideas such as a reduced furlough supports, more flexible furlough criteria, extra grants etc. It is clear that the ongoing impact of Covid-19 will be here for some months and independent retailers need ongoing support if they are to survive.”

The fallout from furlough: More than 3 million workers have been have been put into the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. What are the prospects for those in fashion retail to return to work?

Earlier this week, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new “bounce back” loan for small businesses. The micro-loan scheme will enable businesses to access loans worth up to 25% of their turnover, to a maximum of £50,000.

The government will pay the interest for the first 12 months and will guarantee 100% of the loan. 

The loans will not require forward-looking eligibility tests, but just a “simple, quick, standard” application form for businesses.


Readers' comments (1)

  • Ain’t nothing going on but the Rent ..

    I have been wondering why all the discussion about how to save our economy and protect businesses is missing its biggest trick . Last night on newsnight they had ‘ol Hezza and a business minister and someone else on for another chat over how to respond to the crisis in the restaurant and hospitality sector ..
    but surely the elephant in the room in all these discussions and the biggest cost to most businesses is ... The Rent !
    It’s very helpful to have the government pay your furloughed staff , and for the Rates to be cancelled ... but it’s the tax payers footing the bill for this . So , whilst the retailer mostly gets zero income , and the tax payer borrows from the next generation to pay some staff in the short term and provide free grants , the Landlord has stayed in the shadows waiting for moment he can collect his rent in full most likely by pocketing these grants ! Talk of rent holidays is missing the point and disingenuous .

    It’s absurd.. why should the tax payer support the business if the landlord doesn’t?..
    the banks have been told to suspend commercial mortgages , most private landlords own their premises , and it cannot be left for every tenant to negotiate Ad hoc .
    I’m not a lawyer , only a lowly fashion designer , but it occurs to me that whilst we are indeed in a contract of a lease to pay our rent , the landlord is equally bound to provide us with the commercial property which has the quality required to reach that level of value ... and he is not providing that anymore !

    It should be clear to the chancellor that to plot a course for our nation of shopkeepers and cafe society to survive we need to reduce their overheads to a suitable weight that the ground under their feet can support .. otherwise they will be squashed - its just economic physics . The market for rent and rates needs adjusting to the new reality.
    Perhaps it’s the pension fund managers keeping this issue under their fine carpets but it seems something fishy may be afoot here .
    It requires a considered formula for each industry , each area .. an arbiter with understanding.. not easy , but without it there will be wholesale bloodshed on the balance sheet of our independent industry.

    So , that’s enough from me , I hope you can shine a light on this with one of your wordsmiths digging around and unearthing a tunnel that can guide us towards some light .. for without the High Street , this town , will be coming like a ghost town !

    Mark from Komodo .

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