Reopening independent stores must be part of first phase of exit plan, says Bira

Independent retail businesses can offer a safe shopping environment and will help keep people within their local communities’, says the head of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).

Andrew Goodacre is calling for small independent shops to reopen during the first phase of lifting lockdown restrictions outlined in government documents. He said that a shop’s size should not be the “deciding factor on when it can reopen for business”,  instead its ability to keep staff and customers safe.

He said small shops help to keep people within their local communities, rather than requiring them to travel to retail parks and larger stores.

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According to new research from Springboard, footfall across the UK plummeted 80.1% during the month of April, in light of the nation obeying government-induced lockdown measures.

Goodacre said: “Allowing the smaller shops to open, with correct measures in place, will keep people in their communities.The latest figures on footfall have shown this trend is now there and should be encouraged, in the interest of safety.

“Many essential small shops have continued to trade in a safe way, and we have seen the virus brought under control as a result. They are responsible retailers who do look after their people and customers.”

He added: “Safety of employees and customers is what is essential. Social distancing will remain in place, and all businesses will have to make adjustments.”

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