Non-essential stores will be allowed to reopen on April 12 according to the government's four-part roadmap that was announced yesterday. Gyms, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality will also reopen. The first stage of the plan will see schools reopen from March 8.
Boris Johnson said in a press conference held at Downing Street yesterday that the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations had "shifted the odds in our favour", allowing for a gradual reopening of society.
“In January 2021 non-food specialists store-based sales dropped by 58.9%, ahead of the 69.7% decline in store sales seen in April 2020 but in line with the 58.3% decline seen in May 2020. The sales that were made at store-level in the category came predominantly from those deemed essential or from hard-won experience in how to utilise stores, such as curbside collection.
The decline in January represented around £7.3 billion in lost store based sales due to lockdown, and while online has stepped in to account for some of this lost revenue – it cannot account for it all, and what it does account for necessarily favours those with significant online expertise.
This is why the Government's roadmap and the announcement that, potentially, from April 12 non-essential retail will reopen is so welcome. The retail sector needs all avenues available to it for its full benefit to the economy to be unlocked, and also to restore an element of fairness to consumer purchasing that has favoured some areas and businesses more than others.
However we should also prepare ourselves for a similar slow march back to normality, or the new version of it, in retail as the wider roadmap promises. Shopping locations, and their attractiveness, are a composite of various attractions and the later, full, opening of restaurants and bars, cinemas and other areas will mean a slow return to footfall and trade for physical retail.”