More support for retail sector needed as Covid-19 cases surge, warns Colliers

FinancePeople

Colliers has called upon the government to provide more support for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors after the UK hits a record 78,000 daily Covid-19 cases and Chris Witty subsequently urged people to scale back their Christmas plans.

As the public heeds government advice to limit going out where possible, largely due to the Omicron variant, the sector is losing bookings with many businesses shutting shop early in what is traditionally the busiest time of the year.

Colliers has said the government must step in to financially support the sector, which is only just getting off its knees following the extremely difficult 18 months since Covid-19 first struck.

This time last year, businesses were receiving subsidies via the furlough scheme, a 100% business rates relief on the properties they occupied and were in receipt of substantial government grants.

Now the furlough has ended and the sector is only receiving a capped two thirds discount to their business rates bills, financial support is much more precarious.

In addition, the £2 million cap on rates relief per business introduced after June has meant relief is very limited for the larger chains, which employ large numbers of people.

READ MORE: Farmers warn government to ‘act now’ against food supply chain crisis

“It is ironic that on the day the Act of Parliament outlawing rating appeals became law, the government through its announcements has damaged businesses in cities throughout the country who rely on visitors – this includes not only restaurants / bars and retail but also serviced offices,” Colliers head of business rates John Webber said.

“Although we are not yet in an official Lockdown such as we saw at the beginning of the year, we might as well be for the impact the government’s public health messaging is having on public behaviour.

“With calls to work from home as much as possible and to reduce socialising yet again, the retail/ hospitality industry is losing custom at a rate of knots, costing billions of pounds. This should surely be accompanied by some sector specific financial support from the Treasury.

“The industry was only just starting to recover. And now it’s being hit for six again. The Chancellor needs to come out of the shadows and announce some key reliefs and he needs to do it now.”

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