UK retail shuts down for Queen's funeral ahead of key political decision-making week
UK retail went into a Christmas Day-style shutdown on Monday as company after company has announced in recent days that it would close it doors for the funeral that's being watched by billions of people globally.
There had been some questions around whether all stores would close. But while they don't have to, the national mood and the desire of staff to watch the event meant it was unlikely they'd open.
A few stores selling essentials have stayed open but beyond them, fashion, beauty, indies, chains, department stores and more have shut.
Webstore deliveries have been paused too, although it's still possible to shop online.
London Fashion week has also been put on hold for the day with events that had been scheduled for Monday having — in many cases — been shifted to earlier days or the now-more-busy-than-usual final day on Tuesday.
Others, like Burberry, moved their events to a whole week later.
While much of normal political life in the UK has also been on hold since news of the Queen’s death broke nearly two weeks ago, this week will see a return to frantic political activity from Wednesday that should have a major impact on the retail sector.
A mini budget is expected on Friday following Liz Truss becoming prime minister on 5 September. Having already announced a major cap on consumer energy bills (funded by borrowing), it’s believed the PM will announce a winter support scheme for businesses this week.
Although consumer energy bills have risen fast, business bills are rising faster as there’s no cap on what they pay for their energy as there is for private households.
A number of retailers and other businesses have already spoken of having an uncertain future given the sharp increase in the cost of simply keeping their lights on. Many have complained of a lack of information about what support they might get.
Retailers are also hoping that they might finally see some lasting change to the business rates that have hit retailers with physical stores so hard in recent years.
However, there’s theoretically only a small window of opportunity for the Government and MPs to debate and approve support measures due to the Parliamentary session set to be cut short by the arrival of the political party conference season. The recess was planned to start this Thursday with Parliament to return on 17 October.
But due to the lack of action caused by the months-long Conservative leadership race, and the cessation of the Parliamentary business following the death of the Queen, the Speaker of the House of Commons has suggested that the recess period should be shortened. He wants MPs to return a week earlier.
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