Which shops must close?
All non-essential retail is currently closed. This includes department stores, book shops, technology stores and more high street stalwarts, which all have to shut.
The full list of non-essential shops includes: clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock and agricultural equipment), and market stalls selling non-essential goods.
These businesses will still be able to operate a click and collect service.
Charity shops must also close.
What essential shops are open?
Food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, and off-licences are deemed essential retailers.
Market stalls selling essential goods, petrol stations, taxi and vehicle hire businesses, short-term loan providers, money transfer businesses, medical and dental services, vets and pet shops, funeral directors, launderettes and dry cleaners can also stay open.
Banks, building societies and post offices do not need to shut.
How did we get here?
The new shop closures come after a challenging year for retailers, who were forced to shut shops between March and June in the first nationwide lockdown and again during November’s second English lockdown.
Many household names, including the Arcadia group (which includes Topshop and Burton), Debenhams, Laura Ashley, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Cath Kidston have gone into administration during the pandemic.
The Government has not yet announced any additional support for businesses affected by the winter’s Tier four closures, aside from existing measures such as the furlough scheme, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended until the end of April 2021.
The Prime Minister announced on Jan 27 that the Government will publish a “roadmap” on Feb 22, saying that it would allow people in Britain to begin to “reclaim our lives”.
However, the Government extended lockdown laws in January, giving local councils in England the power to close shops, pubs, restaurants and public spaces, until Jul 17. The extension of these laws will be a setback for those hoping for a return to normality by the early summer.
What will anything change when the shops reopen?
When non-essential retail reopens after lockdown, it is possible that shops will follow the lead of supermarkets, and introduce stricter rules surrounding face coverings and social distancing.
From Jan 11, several supermarket chains announced they were clamping down against rule-breakers, beginning with Morrisons, who revealed they would bar shoppers who fail to adhere to regulations unless they are medically exempt. Following this news, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose also said they would take a tougher stance on those who failed to follow Government guidance.
Furthermore, on Jan 17, The Telegraph exclusively revealed that 7,000 supermarkets will come under inspection from local councils over the next two weeks, to ensure they are Covid-secure. This report comes after some health chiefs warned that “one-shopper” rules be implemented to limit family outings to the shops.
Therefore, it is a possibility that similar measures, which ensure shops are Covid-secure, may be rolled out once non-essential stores open their doors at the other side of lockdown.