Retailers face hit from delayed lockdown ending, study reveals

One in retail and business owners are expected to lose more than half of their revenue as a result of the delay in ending lockdown restrictions, research suggests.

A survey of 200 business owners found that most believed it will take more than six months to recoup losses as a result of the month-long delay, with one in four saying they will never get them back.

Student work app Stint said its study indicated that thousands of hospitality and retail businesses could close for good.

Stint said its research found that one in five business owners will not be able to operate at full capacity when they reopen because of staff shortages.

READ MORE: M&S to close 30 stores after £201m loss

Almost one in seven respondents believed that at least a quarter of their furloughed workers are unlikely to return as they have started new careers over the past 15 months.

“This survey shows the very real cost of just a few weeks’ delay to freedom day and why certainty is key to unlocking our economy.” Stint co-founder Sol Schlagman said.

“Over the last 15 months, businesses have faced heavy losses and further pushbacks could see tens of thousands more close their doors for good.

“The industry desperately needs help, both in the form of short-term solutions to the current crisis and longer-term changes and innovation.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added “The delay in lifting restrictions was a hammer blow to a sector in which so many businesses are already teetering on the brink of existence, with so many jobs and livelihoods at risk.

“This survey tallies with our own findings and affirms the anecdotal evidence that we have received over recent days, weeks and months – that breaking even is a challenge and profit is a distant hope until restrictions are lifted.

“It also evidences the acute workforce shortages, which look set to stifle the recovery of a sector which otherwise has the potential to drive national economic recovery.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Local Authorities have nearly £1 billion of discretionary grant funding remaining to support hospitality, leisure and other hard-hit businesses, and Restart Grants worth up to £18,000 per venue are available.

“The furlough scheme and support for the self-employed is in place until September and eligible businesses continue to benefit from business rates relief of 75 per cent over the year, VAT cuts and the Recovery Loan Scheme.

“We are committed to helping businesses and individuals through the pandemic and deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty over the coming months.”

with PA Wires

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