LONDON: It would be taken as good news as local authorities will be able to temporarily waive the rules restricting retail opening hours. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Robert Jenrick said the relaxation of the rules would allow shopping to be “more pleasant and safer”. Shopkeepers and councils would decide how long stores stay open, he added.
According to BBC, Primark has become one of the first to say that it will take advantage of the new rules. The clothing retailer plans to open 11 of its stores for 24 hours when they are allowed to begin trading again once England’s lockdown is lifted on Wednesday.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) welcomed the move. “With just over three weeks until Christmas, shoppers will welcome the additional opportunities to shop that the government’s statement supports,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said. She encouraged Christmas shoppers not to leave it until the last minute and to avoid peak times.
Months of restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus have hit the High Street hard, and the hope is the relaxation of opening hours will boost business. The new rules would run from Monday to Saturday.
“None of us, I suspect, enjoys navigating the crowds, and none would relish that when social distancing is so important to controlling the virus. These changes mean your local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping, with less pressure on public transport,” Mr Jenrick wrote.
Mr Jenrick urged local councils to offer retailers “the greatest possible flexibility” when determining trading hours. Shops and supermarkets would also be given more leeway over stock delivery times he said, to keep the roads clearer during the day.
At the other hand, thousands of retailing jobs have also been lost at other businesses. Sainsbury’s announced recently that it was cutting 3,500 jobs with the closure of 420 Argos outlets and all meat, fish and deli counters. In August, M&S announced it was set to cut 7,000 jobs over three months.