Any move to level 4 or above will have a devastating impact on the retail industry, particularly those smaller retailers not yet trading online. We cannot shut down the industry at this time of the year.
All retail should be classed as ‘essential’ especially, we cannot simply ‘kill off Christmas’. Retailers in Northern Ireland and across Europe remain open despite higher infection rates.
A further 60,000 jobs are at risk in addition to the 30,000 that have already been lost in the industry.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic retailers have strictly followed all the government advice and guidelines and invested heavily to ensure their premises are safe. The numbers of cases linked to retail are minimal.
Closing at this time will seriously curtail the Christmas shopping season. There will be a huge surge in online shopping this year. We know that 70% of the spend online goes to overseas based retailers and we urge shoppers that are going online to go to Irish websites and shop local.
If we are to close down huge parts of the retail industry then we need to be assured by government of the following:
1. We need a clear roadmap and strategy to reopen
2. We need all click and collect, curb side collections and ecommerce options to remain open to the public and unrestricted
3. We need the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme reinstated with immediate effect
4. We need the Covid Recovery Support Scheme (CSS) to be up and running immediately
5. We need government support with legacy debts such as commercial rents
6. Further funding for the Online Trading Voucher and the Online Retail Scheme needs to be offered to retailers not yet online