On Saturday night PM Boris Johnson announced further lockdown measures.
From Thursday 5th November to 2nd December England will be plunged into a retail and hospitality nightmare with all but essential retailers allowed to stay open. This follows the previous lockdown in March where you were told to stay home except for exercise, grocery shopping and buying medicine. The main difference appears to be schools and universities are to remain open. The furlough scheme has been extended for the month of November paying 80% of staff salary up to Â£2,500, whereas the Job Support Scheme which was due to take effect today has been put on hold until furlough ends. the following link is from the government’s own website site which gives more detail: Lockdown guidance
This lockdown comes at a critical time for retailers when as much as 40% of sales come in this quarter. After the reopening of shops in the summer where many retailers saw good business and were looking forward to a robust Q4.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: â€œRetail faces a nightmare before Christmas as the Government proposes to close thousands of retail premises under this new national lockdown, denying customers access to many of their favourite shops and brands. It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus.”
The lockdown, understandably is a very emotive subject, many will have an opinion on these measures and I am sure there are those of you that believe they are necessary? However, there are also many that see these as way over the top and will do very little to stem the infection and death rate, even if you take the data at face value. Are you really telling me consumers are safer in the fruit and veg aisle of their local supermarket buying some oranges than they are in your shop buying a candle? We publish trade magazines in many sectors and this example holds true across all of them.
Have our esteemed leaders taken leave of their senses, are they just inept, is there a conspiracy theory that holds true? Truth be told who knows, but the government does not help itself when the data they present has holes so large you could drive an Amazon delivery truck through. I believe (and this is just my opinion, feel free to agree or disagree) these restrictions will have little or no value and the only result thatâ€™s guaranteed is the outright failure of many businesses and job losses, which will create far more loss and harm to life than a virus which has a very high chance of survival. To those that say I am being selfish and what about the vulnerable? I am the vulnerable! Though I see He-Man stare back at me when I look in the mirror, my wife and GP reliably inform me that I am carrying more cushioning than is safe, in addition I have a heart condition. I have older family and friends that I do not want in harm’s way. However, nothing in life comes without risk and the risks this shutdown impose seems to me considerably more damaging than a virus that the last time I looked wasnâ€™t even in the top ten of life-threatening diseases in the UK. Every Covid death has been and is a tragedy and I have great sympathy for those that have been affected by it. You might also be vulnerable and welcome this lockdown and fair enough, but will this lockdown actually save lives.
If you disagree with the path being taken now is the time to voice your concerns, tell your MP that you are unhappy with the decision to go into lockdown, to find out more and how to do this click this link: how to lobby your MP. You may think what is the point, well if you do nothing, then clearly nothing will change, but the more that do the more likely action will be taken and hopefully an extended lockdown past 2nd December (as suggested by Michael Gove yesterday) will be halted.
This is an amazing industry with many smart, strong people that will navigate through this challenging period, but I feel it is grossly unfair to put in place actions that place enormous risks to retailers when the science we are following will likely have little positive effect.
Normally we strive for positive, rather than negative comment, however the decisions currently being taken affect us all on some level or another. I am not and nor do I pretend to be an expert (nor am I a Tory basher, I voted for Johnson in the last election) I just read and listen to scientists and doctors; be that the government, SAGE and other experts that have an alternative view (and not the fringe loons on YouTube) and all I see are decisions being taken that will negatively affect many, versus benefiting very few, if at all. Whereas the views of other experts and scientists that take a less sensationalised view that could get us through this without wholesale shutdown get ignored by our government. Given the gravity of the situation the least you might expect is for Boris and his team to consider them. Please know I do not intend to offend or upset anyone, but if we can’t give an opinion without triggering someone then we will get nowhere fast and the last time I checked we are still a free country (just).
I welcome your views, do you agree or disagree with me, whatâ€™s your story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Naish, Managing Director, Gifts Today