Amid growing frustration...
Hopes rise for Scottish shops to reopen at end of June
Princes Street in the mist on Saturday with those few venturing out being reminded of the ever-present threat (pic: Terry Murden)
Scottish retailers could be back in business at the end of this month, one high street giant has indicated.
Amid growing frustration among shop owners north of the border, Primark has said that it it is awaiting further guidance regarding stores in Scotland and Wales but anticipates openings in “late June”.
Non-essential shops opened in Northern Ireland on Friday and will reopen in England on Monday. The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has called on the Scottish Government to provide some guidance on when stores in Scotland can reopen.
Ewan Macdonald-Russell of the SRC said: “We really need an indicative timetable so we can put the right measures in place so we’re ready to trade and customers can have a bit of confidence when they can come back to shops.”
Mr Macdonald-Russell stressed the SRC did not want shops to reopen until it was safe, but says retailers have put safeguards in place.
The government said it will announce the next stage of its route map on Thursday.
Primark has raised hopes of an early reopening (pic: Terry Murden)
“We have a review point on Thursday at which time we will consider further, safe progression through the route map.
“Importantly, we have extended the eligibility criteria for our small business and retail, hospitality and leisure grants and we have extended the upper threshold for retail, hospitality or leisure properties with individual rateable values of up to £18,000 each.
“We have also published workplace guidance to support the retail sector’s return to trading.”
Jackson Carlawy: action plan
Scottish Conservative party leader Jackson Carlaw has called for the government to set out an emergency Town Centre Coronavirus Plan to rescue high streets across Scotland from closures and bankruptcies.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Mr Carlaw says the economy is on “life support” and that shops, pubs and bars in town centres are the most in need of backing.
In April, total Scottish high street sales slumped by 40%, the biggest slump ever recorded. It is feared this week that further job cuts will be announced by many businesses as they prepare for the Governments furlough scheme to be tapered off.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for a “buy local” campaign and is supporting calls from the Scottish Retail Consortium for free parking and the introduction of a scrappage scheme for household goods. These have been suggested by the SRC in its submission to the economic recovery group chaired by former banker Benny Higgins.
Mr Carlaw also wants a relaxation of rules on pavement eating and drinking. and a review of the two-metre rule on social distancing, though this is being resisted by the Conservative government in Westminster.
Mr Carlaw says: “We are now facing a national economic emergency, alongside the health emergency of the spring.
Government isn’t a bystander in this. It should lead the way– Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservatives
“Every decision we take over the coming few weeks – from spending money in local stores, to supporting a locally run café, to choosing to pay for a plumber to fix the heating, might be the difference between an apprentice joining the job centre queue this Christmas, or staying on track for a great career.
“Government isn’t a bystander in this. It should lead the way. Without radical action, we risk plunging Scotland into the deepest economic depression of modern times which will leave lasting and incalculable damage on the life changes of the young and the poorest in our society.
“The SNP cannot simply sit back and blame Westminster if it goes wrong. It has the power, and it needs to act. Starting this week.”
Despite calls for an extended period of free parking, charges for on-street pay and display parking will be resumed in Edinburgh from Monday, 22 June.
The council said it had suspended the enforcement of pay and display parking spaces in March to protect workers and the public from the risk of coronavirus, while helping key workers to make essential journeys.
It added the reintroduction of pay and display parking enforcement will support the city’s economic recovery by encouraging the turnover of parking spaces and therefore visitors to shops, cafes and restaurants when they reopen.
It will also be central to a package of measures facilitating safer walking, cycling and wheeling as restrictions are eased, by limiting congestion and obstructions on the road.
Dispensation for residents who have a valid residents’ parking permit to park in pay and display parking places in their own zone will continue, helping people who need to work from home.
Stores that will not reopen
Cath Kidston – all 60 of its UK stores have shut. Online operation will continue.
Debenhams – 20 branches across the UK are permanently closed; 50 branches are reopening in England on Monday.
Laura Ashley – 70 stores will never reopen, though it continues to trade online.
Monsoon Accessorize – 35 stores closed permanently following administration
Oasis and Warehouse – all 92 branches have shut for good
Virgin Media – all 53 stores closed permanently
Beales – 12 stores closed, including the one in Perth