Covid-19: UK government grants £50m to ‘safely’ reopen high streets

The Reopening High Street Safely Fund will grant a minimum of £30,000 to local authorities in England in order for businesses to install new safety measures

As England prepares to reopen non-essential stores on 15 June, the UK government has granted £50m of funding to support high street businesses to safely reopen after lockdown.

Local councils across England will be granted a minimum of £30,000 based on population, which will help gauge anticipated footfall.

Since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March, all non-essential shops including beauty stores were forced to close.

However, high street health and beauty retailers, including Boots and Superdrug, were able to keep their doors open while the stay at home order was in place.

Boots announced yesterday a list of new safety measures it will implement in-store including perspex visors, one way systems and hand sanitising stations.

Activities covered by the government funding include:

  • Developing an action plan for how the local authority may begin got safely reopen their local economies
  • Communications and public information activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely
  • Business-facing awareness raising activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely
  • Temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely

However, the funding is not to be used as a grant for businesses or capital expenditure and should not replace any sources of already committed expenditure.

High street fears

Despite the gradual reopening, many high street retailers have suffered from lockdown.

Debenhams, John Lewis and Cath Kidston are all rumoured to be keeping some shops shuttered when lockdown is lifted.

Meanwhile, Superdrug slashed three quarters of its rent payments for a minimum of three months in order to survive the pandemic.

Fresh fears have also erupted as consumers turn to spending online.

According to a study, commissioned by global commerce services company PFS, three in five shoppers have bought more goods since the lockdown began, with more than 50% turning to online shopping.

Three quarters of consumers also agreed they expect to keep shopping online once lockdown is over.

This could directly impact the beauty sector as 18% of shoppers said they had bought fewer cosmetics and luxury goods since high street shops closed.

However, in a survey conducted by Your Beauty Club for Cosmetics Business 86% of consumers said they had missed shopping for beauty products in-store, but more than half said they would be unlikely to visit within the first week of beauty shops reopening.

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