Scottish retail chiefs react to fresh coronavirus lockdown in Scotland announced by Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish retailers have been “thwacked hard” by the coronavirus pandemic and fresh restrictions announced today are “unsettling” for the industry, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

This afternoon the First Minister revealed that, from midnight, Scots will be required by law to remain in their homes throughout January except for essential purposes only.

The new March-style lockdown also tightens the definition of “essential businesses”, and will force all those who are able to work from home to do so.

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All non-essential shops have been closed in mainland Scotland since the country entered Level 4 on Boxing Day 2020.

Scottish retailers have been “thwacked hard” by the coronavirus pandemic, and fresh restrictions announced today are “unsettling” for the industry, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scottish retailers have been “thwacked hard” by the coronavirus pandemic, and fresh restrictions announced today are “unsettling” for the industry, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC). (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Homeware stores and garden centres were also compelled to close.

Ms Sturgeon said the new rules are designed to help stem the flow of coronavirus cases in Scotland, as health chiefs warn that the NHS could be overwhelmed in a matter of weeks without action.

The SRC previously estimated that the closure of non-essential shops could see them lose out on around £135 million per week in lost revenue.

Responding to the latest announcements, David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “We recognise the situation with the pandemic is fast moving and are behind the government’s efforts to get on top of the virus.

“Nonetheless these further restrictions are unsettling and come at an incredibly difficult time for the retail industry.

“Non-food retail as a whole has been thwacked hard by the onslaught of coronavirus, and even before the latest lockdown came into effect was trading almost a quarter down compared to the same period last year.

“Even when stores are eventually permitted to re-emerge from this enforced hibernation, it is likely many will continue to suffer from lower shopper footfall.

“Prior to the current lockdown footfall was down by a third. Whilst a return to trading is crucial, it will not be a panacea for the industry.

“That’s why we hope to see a recovery plan from government to get retail moving once again, including visibility on the route out of lockdown, early clarity over continued rates relief for the coming financial year, and short term stimulus to boost consumer confidence and spending once shops can re-open perhaps through a high street voucher scheme.”

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