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Retailers call for further concessions after WFH eased

Empty TopShop
Shops like TopShop have closed while others are suffering from low footfall (pic: Terry Murden)

Retailers are calling for temporary discounted public transport and free parking to help the high street after the First Minister eased the work-from-home order.

They are hoping that the return of workers to offices will provide a boost to town and city centres which have suffered from the dearth of commuters.

Scotland’s shops missed out on £5.8 billion of lost retail sales during the past two years, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium, and one in six shops are lying vacant.

Retailers welcomed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement in parliament that the Covid order is being rescinded from 31 January, although a hybrid arrangement is likely to remain in place for many workplaces.

There is also no indicative timeline for the lifting of other Covid regulations such as the use of plastic screens and barriers, physical distancing in queues and floor markings.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The rescinding of the work-from-home order and the return of commuters and office workers is great news and should give a much-needed fillip to shopper footfall, particularly in Scotland’s larger towns and city centres.

“City centre stores have been especially hard hit by the exodus of office workers, civil servants, students, and tourists during the pandemic. Over and above this however there needs to be a concerted effort to entice shoppers back to our city centres, perhaps through temporary discounts to public transport or free parking.

“Many shops are still trying to find their feet after twenty-two months of complying with Covid restrictions with an inevitable impact on shopper footfall and sales, and would welcome early visibility over plans to remove the final curbs.”

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