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10 Feb 2021 | 08:21

Covid lockdowns cost retailers £22bn - BRC

(Sharecast News) - The three national Covid-19 lockdowns have cost non-essential retailers a combined £22bn in lost sales, the British Retail Consortium said on Thursday, as it called on the Chancellor to do more to help the sector. The industry body said 2020 had been the worst year on record for retailers, with footfall down 40%. Non-essential stores were hit hardest, with in-store non-food sales growth off 24%.

In the 12 months since March 2020, there have been three national Covid-19 lockdowns, with non-essential stores forced to close each time. The BRC has estimated that the lockdowns have cost non-food stores £22bn in lost sales.

The second lockdown was lifted at the start of December. But tighter restrictions were reintroduced in the run-up to Christmas ahead of the third lockdown starting in early January, hampering retailers' ability to generate "much-needed turnover", the BRC said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the body, said: "It is essential that the chancellor uses the spring budget to support those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. Vital support in the form of an extension to the business rates relief and moratorium on debt enforcement, as well removing state aid caps on Covid business grants, would relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay."

The BRC said these actions would allow retailers to survived periods of closure, thereby avoiding shop closures and job losses. Retailers contributed £17bn in business taxes in 2019, the BRC said, and collected £46bn in VAT.

Dickinson added: "The investment we provide to retailers now will be repaid many times over through more jobs and greater tax revenues in the future."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is scheduled to present the 2021 spring budget on March 3.
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