GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson met with Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets and also Minister for London, along with leaders of other key trade associations in the IRC. The meeting was to discuss the impact of lockdown on High St retailers and support needed to rebuild business.
The Minister acknowledged the investment that had been made by retailers to ensure COVID19 safe trading environments, and was keen to emphasis the governments desire to ensure that non-essential retail remain open if possible. He acknowledged the need for clear consistent messaging from government, but also asked for support with messaging locally to encourage consumers to take responsibility for shopping safely. He said he was keen to work with the IRC and listen to our input.
Amanda spoke about the loss of Mother’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day trade for the greeting card industry, leading into the importance of the Christmas trade affected during the 2nd lockdowns. In response to questions about online sales Amanda explained to the Minister that 90% of greeting cards are bought in a bricks and mortar store, and the fact that increases in online sales had not made up for lost sales.
The need for targeted relief for businesses effected most was discussed, and the issues of rent and rates. Again the Minister listened and said he was ‘sympathetic’ to the request to extend the moratorium on rents but that there needed to be an end date due to the impact on other areas of the economy. The need for urgent review of the rates system was also discussed, which the Minister acknowledged, and he invited the group to feed back further with ideas. The group also put forward the idea of a government voucher scheme, similar to the summer ‘eat out’ initiative, to support local retailers which the Minister noted.
Amanda and other IRC colleagues are meeting with Paul Scully again in January to discuss Christmas trading and the support needed to build business back up in 2021. Members who would like to input into this January meeting are asked to email the Amanda on firstname.lastname@example.org