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Tier 4 will bring ‘severe’ consequences to retail sector, warns BRC

Retail will face “severe” consequences in light of heightened restrictions across much of the UK, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned. 

It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that Tier 4 restrictions would be introduced in London and the South East, effective from yesterday (20 December).  

Under Tier 4 restrictions, all non-essential retail must remain closed until further notice. The trade body has warned that store closures will lead to £2bn in lost sales per week, however. 

The BRC also warned that Tier 4 will place “many thousands” of jobs at risk, while businesses will face “serious difficulty” over the festive period.  

It added that retailers have invested “hundreds of millions” of pounds in making stores Covid-secure for both customers and staff, while SAGE’s advice has said that closing non-essential retail has a “minimal impact” on the spread of the virus.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, said: “We recognise that the government has difficult decisions to make and the situation with the pandemic is very fast moving, but this is hugely regrettable news. 

“The consequences of this decision will be severe. For businesses, the government’s stop-start approach is deeply unhelpful – this decision comes only two weeks after the end of the last national lockdown and right in the middle of peak trading which so many are depending on to power their recovery.” 

She added: “Faced with this news – and the prospect of losing £2bn per week in sales for the third time this year – many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk.

“The government will need to offer additional financial support to help these businesses get back on an even keel – an extension to business rates relief in 2021 is the best place to start.”

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