FILE PHOTO: A deserted Brent Cross shopping centre is seen in London, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
(Reuters) – British retailers have warned the government that its business bailout package of reliefs, grants and loans will not be sufficient to stop the “imminent collapse of many businesses”.
The British Retail Consortium said in a letter to small business minister Paul Scully and finance minister Rishi Sunak that the crisis “facing parts of the retail sector . . . must be addressed urgently ahead of the June quarter [rent] day”.
Many businesses operate on small margins, have had little or no income coming in for several weeks and are at imminent risk, the letter said, adding that even after a lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus is lifted it will take these businesses a considerable time to recover.
The retailers also said that, while the income of furloughed staff is protected by the government, without further action on property costs the companies that employ them will be unable to continue since they cannot meet the costs of trading.
The consortium said that an “intuitive stimulus could prevent” this collapse.
The letter called for an urgent meeting with Scully and officials in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to agree how best to minimise economic harm and widespread job losses.
The letter was also signed by the British Property Federation and Revo, which represents the retail property sector.
Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alex Richardson