April 2020 News By Francesca Seden

the public are now only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the decision after continuous increases in Coronavirus cases suggested the UK was only two weeks behind the outbreak level in Italy. “You must stay at home,” he said in a televised statement. Non-essential retailers – including electrical retailers, which were pin- pointed by the PM – were ordered to close their doors. However, online orders are still allowed to be fulfilled as consumers can have items home delivered. “You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine,” Mr Johnson added, “and you should do this as little as you can.” A number of high street retailers, including John Lewis, had already shut prior to the announcement, leaving tens of thousands of people temporarily without work. Some retailers shared how the pandemic is affecting them and their

s the UK went into full lockdown last month amid the Coronavirus pandemic,

reactions to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s business relief efforts.

At the time

ERT spoke to them, retailers had not yet been forced to close their doors. In the weeks prior to this, they said footfall was up and many reported record sales of freezers and fridge freezers as consumers panic- bought frozen food. Bread makers and OLED TVs also saw a significant uptick. Ronnie Ashley at Trafalgar Electronics

told ERT: “We’ve been busy the past few weeks but we’re slowing now and who knows what might happen?” While Paul Mead at Michael R Peters explained: “There’s been a snowball effect with people panic-buying and realising they need a second freezer, but now we’re almost sold out. “We had an old couple come in and trade up their old tubby tellies to a modern OLED smart TV. They figure if they’re going to be stuck at home, now is the time to buy something new so they can enjoy it.”

Alongside the pandemic, retailers

were also eagerly anticipating Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s press conference, where he unveiled plans to offer £330bn in government-backed business loans to big businesses and grants for small to medium-sized businesses of up to £25,000 to help with costs. Speaking to ERT, Retra Chief Executive, Howard Saycell, welcomed the move, commenting: “There is a lot of support there for small businesses and the retail sector, which is great as that makes up most of our membership base. The question now is how does one apply for a grant, and how long will it take to come through? But it’s a strong, timely move by the government and the commitment to do more if needed is also promising. “That said, we need more meat on the bones and more detail. My big hope is that it will help businesses stay open, which might have otherwise had to close. The suspension of business rates will help big and small businesses but the grants to help smaller businesses will really help electrical retailers, so I’m really pleased.”

Electrical retailers report of panic buying as Coronavirus takes hold

Mr Mead was more cautious, adding: “My understanding is that it isn’t going to be instant and we will have bills to pay. If the government said we could have a VAT or PAYE holiday then that would instantly help and would take the onus off us retailers who are struggling and stressed enough as it is.”

“Our industry can almost be classed as the fourth emergency service because of the crucial appliances that we sell. People need ovens and fridge freezers.”

Mr Ashley said: “Suppliers and

landlords obviously know what’s happening so are sympathetic. It would be nice if they could put a hold on payments for the time being and obviously we wouldn’t be able to order further stock, but that would be helpful. “I agree about us being a potential emergency service. If people are stuck without a washing machine or fridge freezer and can’t get out it’s important we’re able to deliver one.”


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