British Merchant Group Warns Government Help Not Enough

UK retailers need more financial aid

The British Retail Consortium has said the U.K.’s financial aid measures haven’t been enough to stop a total collapse for many retailers.

In a letter to small business minister Paul Scully and finance minister Rishi Sunak, the Consortium said that June’s rent payment dates will be a life-or-death matter for many businesses, and so more action needs to be taken.

The letter said the businesses, many operating on thin revenues already, won’t just be able to bounce back after things reopen — many will be in dangerous waters and will take more time to recover.

According to the Consortium, the problem isn’t the income of furloughed employees; that’s protected by the government’s laws. But many businesses won’t be able to withstand property costs for rent and other such expenses without further aid. The solution posed by the Consortium was an “intuitive stimulus.”

So, the Consortium called for a meeting with Scully and also officials with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury, to try and figure out a solution to create a safety net for businesses in danger.

The letter was also signed by Revo, which represents the retail property sector, and the British Property Foundation.

Restaurants in the U.K. have said that the pandemic’s social distancing mandates, which have essentially eliminated much of their revenue by making dine-in services dangerous, could bankrupt many of them.

French bakery-cafe chain Paul, JKS Restaurants of London, and worldwide hospitality company Accor were among those who said keeping a mandated distance and fewer customers wouldn’t bring in the level of finances required to keep a business running at top-speed. Many more would have to lay off employees. Many would close for good.

And many operators have said that constant cleaning of tables and surfaces would diminish atmosphere and take up too much time.

Some modifications could help, though, such as adding plastic screens between tables, which might look unappealing, but could make a difference.


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