Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

‘Shop out to help out’ scheme needed for small retailers

Published:  02 November, 2020

Extra help is needed to support small, independent retailers through a second lockdown, including a ‘Shop out to help out’ scheme and a cashflow windfall, it has been suggested.

As a second lockdown looms over the UK, more help is being demanded for small retailers that now face increased competition from the supermarkets and online giants like Amazon.

During the first lockdown, wine was designated as an essential item. Many independents were able to stay open, and even saw increased trade as a result of supermarket queues. However, for those not able to stay open, or without an e-commerce presence, more help is needed.

“The latest lockdown announcements are going to hit small retailers hard just when they were just starting to get their businesses back in shape,” Mark Hart, a partner at tax and advisory firm, Blick Rothenberg, said.

“The government should step in now and adopt the German model of guaranteeing small retailers incomes up to 75% of last year’s November takings.

“By guaranteeing this level of income, it will give retailers the resources to be able to pay rent and other outgoings including salaries. This would enable them to also invest in an online presence. Otherwise many of them will not be around to trade at all in the new year.”

Resources should be allocated to small businesses only, enabling SMEs to compete with the internet giants and ensure that the UK continues to have a thriving and “innovative retail sector”.

Hart also advocated for a ‘Shop Out to Help Out scheme’ for small retailers. Similar to the on-trade’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, this could see the government introduce a ‘Christmas bonus’ of around £100 to the unemployed and people on furlough to spend with small retailers.

“We are looking at a very bleak Christmas unless the Government takes action to keep the consumer spending. These interventions are crucial in order for small retailers to continue to trade and protect jobs, considering that the furlough scheme still requires contributions to national insurance and pension. They need to be able to accurately forecast their cash burn and their working capital needs when they are able to reopen,” Hart said.

He added: “Thousands of small retailers have bought in stock for Christmas that they will now struggle to sell, so any form of support would be welcome.

“Retailers now need to be innovative, set up websites if they can, operate a click and collect system, use social media where possible, even put messages in their shop windows ensuring that consumers know how to contact them and show what goods they have on offer.”