24 hour shopping is on!

Coronavirus,

No-one needs to be reminded of how difficult 2020 has been for anyone in retail. Just in the last week, the UK High Street has lost Debenhams, Peacocks, Bon Marche, and Arcadia. Thousand of jobs will be lost.

On the positive side, the end of Lockdown 2.0 this week has seen non-essential shops in large swathes of the UK able to reopen their doors. They’ll hope that they’re able to recover lost sales in the run-up to Christmas.

So a recent announcement by Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, is an interesting one! He has said that councils are able to temporarily waive the rules restricting retail opening hours. This paves the way for retailers to extend their opening hours in the crucial pre-Christmas build-up.

The justification for the change is to allow shoppers to chose less busy times and reduce the chance of infection in the high street. The hope is that feeling safer in stores may encourage shoppers to return to our bricks and mortar stores rather than do all of their shopping on line this year. It would also reduce pressure on public transport, much of which is still running reduced services.

The extended hours would be possible from Monday to Saturday. Local councils were encouraged to offer retailers “the greatest possible flexibility” when determining trading hours.

The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the decision, and encouraged shoppers to take advantage of extended opportunities to support their local shops.

It remains to be seen whether local councils enable retailers to have as much flexibility as is suggested in Robert Jenrick’s announcement. The ‘shop local’ message does seem to be gaining in volume, so let’s hope they do!