Business leaders yesterday slammed the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and said the lockdown in England has left thousands of companies in ‘intensive care’.
Hospitality chiefs and shopkeepers told MPs on the Business Committee the ‘brutal’ measures have led to mass redundancies as firms miss out on ‘crucial’ Christmas trade.
Retailers blasted the fact that some stores close while others stay open despite Government scientists saying shops are a low infection risk.
Shut up shop: Retailers blasted the fact that some stores close while others stay open despite Government scientists saying shops are a low infection risk
The sector will miss out on £2billion of sales every week while online logistics and the postal system are close to breaking point.
And poorly targeted financial help has left the taxpayer funding lavish dividend payouts while small firms suffer.
Last week Topshop owner Arcadia denied it was on the brink of going into administration and Greggs culled another 800 staff.
Pubs, restaurants and hotels have shed 660,000 jobs this year, and 235,000 losses are expected in retail.
UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: ‘Hospitality has gone from a precarious position back into intensive care in what should have been our golden quarter.
We need as much of the sector to open, with as few restrictions as possible to protect public health, to allow these businesses to regain some income in the crucial month of December.’
Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of Pure Gym, said: ‘The lockdown has been absolutely brutal for the industry. There have been numerous high-profile business failures.’
Businesses have had no indication what restrictions they will face when the lockdown is lifted on December 2.
Ralph Findlay, boss of Marston’s, which has 1,300 pubs, said: ‘I hope we will open on December 3 for the biggest trading period of my year.
‘I don’t know how many of the 10,000 staff I’ve got on furlough I can bring back or what discussions I need to have about getting beer and food into pubs. This kind of late discussion is incredibly difficult.’
Shops also lashed out over restrictions , with many forced to shut while shoppers can buy Christmas presents in stores such as Marks & Spencer.
Helen Dickinson, at the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Many businesses’ survival is threatened. An arbitrary line has been drawn down the industry with a definition of what ‘essential’ means. ‘