Some of Britain's best-known fashion and retail names have campaigned for the government to launch a “shop out to help out” scheme to aid beleaguered independent shops as they prepare to reopen on April 12. The group includes retail consultant Mary Portas, beauty mogul Charlotte Tilbury, and designers Charlie Casely-Hayford and Henry Holland. The last two even designed the campaign's logo.
The group argues support should take a similar structure to last year's eat out to help out scheme, with the government covering 50 per cent of the cost of goods bought at physical stores with fewer than 10 employees.
Founder of 'Save The Street' campaign, Ross Bailey said independent shops have been the worst hit by lockdown regulations. The British Retail Consortium estimates that non-essential retail stores, many of which are independent, lost £22bn in sales in 2020, with footfall reduced by 40 per cent. Bailey said small family businesses have not been able to take advantage of the furlough scheme “because the small amount of online orders may be getting them through the month.”
He was quoted in a media report as saying, “What’s distressing is that, during the pandemic, a lot of shops have had to shut but we have not seen the kind of support that has been offered to other industries. Independent shops do not have the same kind of lobby groups that big pubs, transportation and aviation industries do. Even the technology sector – which has done incredibly from lockdown regulations – has benefited from matched funding from the government, while tiny businesses that are the backbone of this country have seen nothing.”
Only last year alone, over 11,000 outlets permanently disappeared from high streets, shopping centres and retail parks. Online shopping, on the other hand, has grown four-fold. 'Save The Street' campaign argues more than Chancellor Rishi Sunak's extension of business rates relief until July.
Bailey said, “There's an argument that there is some pent up demand. I agree that there is. But it is no way enough to make up for a store being closed for most of the year.