Jacqui Baker, head of retail at RSM, has called for a more “flexible furlough scheme” to allow retailers to “manage peaks and troughs of activity”, as the UK comes out of lockdown.
In her plea, which comes ahead of the government’s coronavirus select committee this afternoon, Baker said that retailers are “not out of the woods yet” – meaning the sector needs continued support which is “flexible to cater for future turbulence”.
Figures by the group show that there are still over half a million retail employees on the furlough scheme.
The furlough scheme, which was first introduced during the first pandemic to prevent staff redundancies, has been extended until September 2021.
Baker said: “As uncertainty remains, a more flexible furlough scheme is needed to allow retailers to manage peaks and troughs of activity, as we come out of lockdown.
“Extending rates relief for retailers would be a real boost; but what is actually needed is urgent action on the business rates review to ensure when support is lifted retailers are paying the fair amount – releasing the stranglehold it currently has on many retailers.”