The British Retail Consortium and Scottish Retail Consortium have warned that the curb on non-essential click and collect services could prove ‘disastrous for an already beleaguered retail industry,’ with far wider implications for the UK’s retail sector should the ban widen.
The warning has been issued since yesterday’s breaking announcement that Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon was to impose a ban on non-essential click and collect services for shops across Scotland.
It followed plans detailed by John Lewis Partnership to halt its own click and collect services across the UK in a bid to help the government drive down non-essential travel.
Both moves have been met with disappointment by the retail industry who has united in voicing concerns over the impact it would have on the sector, should the ban spread UK-wide. Until now, retailers have relied on their click and collect efforts to weather a relentless storm of lockdowns and social restrictions that have heavily impacted footfall and business as customers turn to online shopping.
Click and collect services of the non-essential retailers have been their life-line and, in many cases, their last remaining link to local communities, themselves driven to spend more with online giants such as Amazon.
Tom Ironside, director of business and regulations at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Click and collect is used by a wide array of companies and allows the public to get many of the goods they need in a safe, convenient and timely manner.
“Retailers have implemented systems to ensure people are kept safe while queueing and collecting goods, and we have seen no evidence to suggest otherwise.
“Preventing people using click and collect services would harm the viability of many retailers, already suffering under lockdown, as well as severley limiting the choice for some consumers.”
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium has called the restrictions now set to come into force from Saturday, January 16th as “revenue crushing”.
“The situation with the pandemic is fast moving and we fully recognise government wants people to stay at home. However, these further revenue-crushing restrictions and the fresh complexity they bring, together with constant chopping and changing to the Covid Strategic Framework, are disconcerting and come at an incredibly difficult time for retail.
“Firms operating click and collect or food to go takeaway have taken every reasonable step to make their operations as safe as possible, complying with every twist and turn to government guidance and often at pitifully short notice.
“They have demonstrated they can operate safely and have invested significantly to make their premises Covid-secure, and it appears no evidence to the contrary has accompanied this announcement.”