The BRC has called on the Government to reconsider any plans for phasing the reopening of retail stores. The Times has today published a letter by the BRC which argues that safety and a risk-based approach should be the key basis for making decisions on reopening rather than size of stores.

This call comes ahead of the expected publication of plans to ease lockdown restrictions over the coming days. According to a recent article in the Times, small shops would be the first to reopen in early June, with large shopping centres following in the second phase.

The BRC’s letter sets out concerns that a phased reopening based on the size of retail stores could have negative consequences for public safety. Instead, the Government should focus on shopping, not shops; this must include joining the dots between the reopening of schools, public transport, shops and retail locations.

The BRC is working to support the safe reopening of retail and has produced a range of guides, including guidance on social distancing in non-food retail stores, developed with Usdaw.

The letter can be found below:

I read with alarm that in the first phase of lifting lockdown restrictions the government is to prioritise small shops for reopening.

This approach provides the least economic benefit and poses the greatest risk to health. It is the worst of both worlds.

Safety should be the only basis for making decisions on reopening; size of shop should not come into it. Retailers have made detailed plans, based on BRC-Usdaw guidance and the hard-won experience of retailers operating during lockdown. They will make a risk assessment: if it is safe, they will open and get people back to work; if it isn’t, they will not.

The government should focus on a plan that joins the dots between schools, public transport, shops and places. Favouring one part of the retail industry over another will cause confusion for the public and may undermine public safety.

Helen Dickinson
CEO, British Retail Consortium


• Details of the Government’s plan to reopen were published in the Times article ‘Rishi Sunak to cut coronavirus furlough scheme’, on 6 May 2020.
• The BRC’s letter can be found here.