Real Estate Blog: The End of COVID Rules – What does that mean for Retail?
The retail world will have breathed a huge sigh of relief on hearing the recent announcements regarding the COVID rules and the Plan B measures ending on 26 January.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that the government are no longer asking people to work from home and that from Thursday 27 January, COVID passes will no longer be required to gain entry to venues; face masks will no longer be compulsory in public spaces; and there is an intention to end mandatory self-isolation for people who test positive for COVID.
Shoppers have had to wear face masks since November and the move to the Plan B COVID restrictions in early December was met with dismay from retail and property bosses. It came at the worst time for retailers going into Christmas, at a time when footfall was improving after a catastrophic period, and when there had been such an increase in shop worker absences. The working from home rules meant that, at such a crucial time for retail and the wider economy, there would be a plunge in people going into shops and hospitality venues. Retailers called for government support due to the new restrictions, especially given the previous support measures and furlough schemes had ended. However, retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Next and M&S still posted profit upgrades, perhaps showing how keen the British public are to get back into shops.
The ending of the rules and the Omicron peak having (hopefully) passed can only be a positive one for shoppers and retail businesses, although there will be those who remain fearful to enter shops without face masks and retailers will have to find the right balance to attract shoppers back into stores. However, with the end to the working from home rules, town and city centre retail should get a much needed boost, shop workers can get back into the workplace, and more people will be out in shops, bars and restaurants, hopefully hitting the sales and spending.
The public will be able to use their ‘bank of lockdown savings’ to buy clothes other thank just leisure wear. The fact that leisure and hospitality venues will be fully open without the need for face coverings will inevitably mean a desire to update wardrobes. If the self-isolation rules are also withdrawn, even more people will be able to get back out there.
Retailers will still be facing big challenges in 2022 with inflationary pressures, global supply shortages, people adjusting to “freedom” shopping and the ever-increasing move to online, but with the ending of the COVID rules, finally after the last few years of devastation, the retail sector can again flourish.
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