Retailers and supermarkets have been accused of exploiting loopholes to get through Christmas, while other shops remain closed. The range encourages consumers across England to shop this Christmas – in store or online.
But some traders whose businesses are closed say the company is not behaving fairly. The Plymouth-based company, which sells a range of clothing, footwear, accessories and other items for children and young people, says it is operating within the rules.
One competitor, who did not want to be named, told the BBC: “It’s the Wild West out there. Range says it is following the government’s lead and has been rated a “must-have” by a company spokesman.
Martin Coles – Evans runs a gift and homeware store called Hargreaves & Sons in Buxton, Derbyshire. The store will be open in the future, but the store will operate in a “safe environment” to provide a safe environment for customers and employees, he said.
He said: “We have run the business for over 150 years and times are tough but we are just lagging behind and trying to make ends meet with government support. The store owner visited the garden centre over the weekend, which also sells Christmas gifts for children such as Christmas trees and Christmas lights, he said. He said the rules were being played out in business to “make sure people stay safe” – meaning “we’re closed” – and that big companies “try to keep the loopholes in the centre open when there aren’t loopholes.” It seems they are messing up the whole Christmas business just to try to make ends meet with the support of the government, “he added.
Stirling was dismayed when he stacked Lidl wooden toys and books on the floor of his shop in the garden centre, despite them being tightly locked. He wrote to his local MP expressing his concerns, but has not heard back and will close from 5 November to 2 December.
Lidl said: ‘We are following closely the Government’s guidelines that allow companies selling significant quantities of vital retail goods to continue selling goods that are not normally sold in retail, such as toys and books, which are sold at the absolute minimum. He said he felt the big supermarkets benefited from being able to sell non-essential goods at “minimal prices.”
For example, some supermarkets selling food have closed and sealed aisles for household goods. There are exceptions, such as those that do not have to, for example, not have to sell toys or books.
The Directive requires only shops selling non-essential goods on each floor of the building to close. A spokeswoman said: “These restrictions have been put in place because we need to restrict social contact to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. The restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, she said.
We recognise that this remains a very difficult time for businesses and have therefore confirmed that there will be a wide-ranging programme of 3 million PS3 compensation for those who are legally obliged to close. But with just six weeks to go before Christmas, many shopkeepers are not getting enough help to compensate the business owners who have been forced to close. William Coe, who runs Coo department store in Ipswich, said: “I don’t think the government really understands how retail works in the UK. I think if you pay wages and give a little more money for overheads, that would be fine.
However, Mr Coe said the government’s support did not go far enough to shut businesses down at a crucial time of year. I understand we are in a difficult situation but when people are told they have to close down they have to get the right support, “Coe said. This is an important trading week that has a huge impact on the economy, not just for retailers but for all of us.
Other retailers, including bookstores and clothing companies, have criticised the government’s handling of the second coronavirus exclusion. James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones, told the BBC that an arbitrary line had been drawn and small bookshops were being forced to close, while WHSmith, which sells books and other items, could remain open. He said the company was working on government guidelines that would allow newsagents and post offices to keep trading. However, a spokesman for WH Smith said the chain would benefit from the rules because there were already far fewer shoppers on High Streets to close.