The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), is calling for business rates to be abolished for another year. The plea for Government action follows a damning report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which reveals the impact of Covid-19 on shopper footfall.
According to the BRC’s latest report, year-on-year footfall for 2020 fell by 43.4% overall and by 49.5% on the UK’s high streets.
The last quarter of 2020 saw nearly half the footfall compared to the same period in 2019 – a decline of 48.4%. Northern Ireland saw the lowest footfall decline of all regions with a drop of 47.2%, followed by Scotland at 50.2%. Wales saw a decline of 52.3.1%.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s ceo said: “These figures are a clear indication the impact of lockdowns and Covid-19. Even when shops were open, the high streets – where most independent retailers are located – were only operating at 70% of the normal footfall.”
“The situation has made retailers even more vulnerable than they might normally have been at this time of year,” he continued, “and that is why we believe the Government support measures do not go far enough.”
“If ever the Government needed evidence that business rates need removing for non-essential retail in 2021/22, here it is.”
Business rates are currently due to be reinstated this April following a freeze on retail business rates throughout the pandemic.