Mar 30, 2021
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Big names call for 'shop out to help out' retail support package

Mar 30, 2021

First there was ‘Eat Out to Help Out’. Now there’s a fashion-backed call for a similar ‘Shop Out to Help Out’ scheme to be introduced for independent retailers.

There are calls for a scheme to help small shops post-reopening - Photo: Pexels/public domain

A collection of leading UK fashion and retail names are supporting campaign group Save The Street asking for the UK government to launch a stimulus package to help independent stores when they reopen on 12 April.

Supporting the proposal are designers Charlie Casely-Hayford and Henry Holland, retail consultant Mary Portas and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury.

The group is asking the government to cover 50% of the cost of goods bought at physical stores with fewer than 10 employees, capped at £10. The scheme could run every Monday to Wednesday for a month over the summer period.

The group says it could be similar to the the Eat Out to Help Out restaurant programme and see the government reimburse retailers for the discount. The new campaign suggests customers would need to be limited to using it once per transaction.

Save The Streets estimates the proposals would cost the taxpayer roughly the same amount as the ‘Eat Out’ scheme. Government figures showed that 50,000 food outlets claimed £849 million last August. However, the group also said the Treasury could cover the costs of the scheme by introducing an online sales tax which, is currently under review.

Alternatively, they suggest drawing on the £1.8 billion in business rates relief that has been returned by supermarkets to cover the cost of the scheme.

Save The Street founder Ross Bailey told The Guardian newspaper: "We would be kidding ourselves to think that everything will be fine for independent retailers once they reopen on 12 April".

He noted that many small family businesses haven’t been able to take advantage of the government’s furlough scheme “because the small amount of online orders may be getting them through the month”.

He added: ”The damage has been done over the last 12 months, now it is the government's responsibility to support these businesses and ensure they are given a fighting chance to bounce back. With the right support independent shops could be at the centre of an improved high street that could match the values of a post-pandemic landscape. 

British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) chief executive Andrew Goodacre also told The Sun newspaper: "We know the Eat Out to Help Out scheme really brought customers back to hospitality venues last summer, and we are sure that a similar initiative for retail would have the same effect.

"Much of retail has borne the brunt of this pandemic and this scheme would help give a much-needed boost to high streets and consumer confidence".

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