In Bethnal Green, east London, on Saturday afternoon, Sumen Sumen, the manager of the popular Plant warehouse, feared learning that he would have to close six days before Christmas, coming to his shop full of people. purchase of festive gifts.
“It’s a shame, so short. I am disappointed that we have to close before Christmas. Our industry is completely risky – these plants will become as useless as yesterday’s newspaper. ”
His daughter, working on the shop to return, put her head in her hands and said: “Oh my God. ”
Their comments summed up hundreds and thousands of owners of non-essential shops and services in London, the South East and the East of England this weekend. Shop owners and business leaders described a sudden move in these areas into new level 4 restrictions as a “real disaster”, warning that it would do great harm to companies that relied on critical time in the future. Christmas.
The Prime Minister was told that unnecessary shops and services such as a hairdresser had to close from midnight on Saturday with frustration and anger.
United business leaders were outraged, describing the government’s ridiculous response as a “huge blow” that left many companies with Christmas stock unable to move.
The British Retail Confederation (BRC) noted that Boris Johnson emerged level 4 as a crash amid new demands for more financial support for hard-core businesses.
His boss, Helen Dickinson, even questioned whether the “true regret” decision would do much to stop the effects of Covid-19.
“Retailers have invested millions of pounds in making Covid-secure stores for customers and employees, and Sage’s advice has been widely stated that closing unnecessary retailers will not ‘Minimizing the spread of the virus,’ she said.
Elsewhere, Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan, who includes London’s West End, said the move left businesses “looking into the abyss after they finally got a gasp at pre-Christmas sales taken from them ”.
Back on the streets, across the road at Sumen’s sister business, the Flower Warehouse, the feeling was a bit gloomy. Again, the focus was on the amount of stock, now abruptly gone – including 20 newly arrived Christmas trees. Store employee Tara Kirwan said the new restrictions promised her a deserted Christmas because of lost pay. “It simply came to our notice then. It’s also crazy because this place is very airy and spacious. ”
Up the road, inside a delicatessen Hive, store employee Diego Flumian described the seemingly abrupt decision to move into stricter restrictions as difficult.
He said: “It’s very painful for business. It would have been helpful to have an idea beforehand, these sudden changes are the worst. ”
Commenting that the level 3 restrictions for the capital were announced just Monday, Flumian said: “We changed at the beginning of the week and now we need to change again. But I get it too, I get it to be done and the politicians know what they are doing. ”
While the Hive will remain open for takeaway. he said the industry would be hit hard and that it already was. Three workers would normally be required on a Saturday; yesterday Flumian was just needed.
On the same stretch, at Hurwundeki’s hairdressers, came the news that the industry suddenly had only two hours of trade left before Christmas left workers speechless. When he was told about the incoming steps, one of the salon staff believed. “What?” he said. When asked to explain his reaction, he just put his head in his hands.
The prime minister’s announcement follows last week’s figures showing that the second lockout in November ended a six-month run of gradual retail sales.
Clothing stores were hit particularly hard last month by locking restrictions and most had reopened in December in hopes of strong sales ahead of Christmas to lose ground.
In March, sales fell more than 94% in London on the first Saturday after closing. Early population estimates in London on Saturday by the BRC showed it was already down 40%.
Diane Wehrle, head of policy at BRC, said most shops had stocked for the last few days of Christmas shopping now that most internet retailers had confirmed that they can further promise that gifts would arrive in time for December 25th.
Shares in retail groups are expected to fall when financial markets open on Monday, but investors are expected to stop the sell-off as they mitigate the impact of a third lockout and focus on the vaccine benefits open economy in spring.