Boost for retailers as government says we can all shop around the clock

Photo shows: Independent retailer Barry Whitehouse at his art shop The Artery in Banbury
The Artery, Banbury

From Wednesday 2 December, as England returns to a system of tiered restrictions, all non-essential retail across England will be able to reopen, and planning rules limiting opening hours will be eased to allow shops to be open for longer Monday to Saturday.

The government says these measures will help ease transport pressures and make socially distanced shopping easier by giving people greater flexibility to choose when they shop and avoid peak times.

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And by choosing to shop local, consumers can double the amount of money that stays within their local economy by consciously choosing to shop more with independent, local businesses, finds a new report from Visa and the Cebr (Centre for Economics and Business Research)

The report revealed that for every £10 spent with an independent business, £3.80 is retained locally, but only just over half of Brits plan to do some of their Christmas shopping locally this year, either online or in store, while four in five (81 per cent) are supporting local businesses as much, or more than, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many independent retailers are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial.

Banbury art-shop owner Barry Whitehouse went from having no website to running virtual art classes for his local students – now, they’re joined by people from all over the world.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “None of us entirely enjoy navigating the crowds, especially now when social distancing is so important for controlling the pandemic. So with these changes your local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.

“How long will be a choice for shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council. Councils should offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “With just over three weeks until Christmas, shoppers will welcome the additional opportunities to shop that the government’s statement supports. Such measures will give more flexibility for shoppers about when and how they shop and we’d encourage everyone to avoid peak times where possible, not leave it all to the last minute and follow all the safety guidelines.”