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12 Mar 2021

Independent retailers are the 'big losers' in Welsh exit plans, says Bira

Bira expressed disappointment that the independent retail sector will not be able to reopen in Wales until April 12.

Once again - as in England  - Bira says retailers will miss out on crucial Easter trading - even though garden centres will be allowed to open from March 22 - and 'essential' traders will again be allowed to sell 'non-essential' items from this date.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the 'phased' exit plan, which includes the reopening of hairdressers on Monday, March 15, and holiday accommodation from March 27.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: “We are always pleased to see retail businesses re-open. However, independent retail, especially the specialist shops, are again the big losers.

"Whilst other general retailers, including garden centres can sell non-essential items and benefit from the Easter holiday period, independent retailers continue to suffer their worst year ever.

"It would appear that people can go on holiday in Wales, bur specialist shops that support the tourism industry cannot meet the demands of the people on holiday.

"The Welsh plan lacks cohesion and is inconsistent. We are told that extra support will provided to businesses that are closed but nothing replaces a busy shop."

He added: "It will be a blooming good Easter for those large non-essential retailers who can open, including the large department stores with plants (otherwise known as garden centres!)."

Adrian Field from For Cardiff added: "We share the frustration of many of our independent retailers at the decision by Welsh Government to not permit non-essential retail to open on March 15, and yet allow supermarkets to open up all aisles the week after. It is clearly to the detriment of independent retailers that this decision has been taken and when they also see hairdressers and barbers opening straight away, it feels inequitable.

"I do think that there is a fear by the Welsh Government that English customers will come over the border in large numbers to shop if Wales open non-essential retail earlier that hasn’t been flagged up in the media. Hairdressers and supermarkets opening in full won’t have that pull effect."

Non-essential retail in England will also be allowed to reopen on April 12, while in Scotland such shops will be closed until April 26. 

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