Government must do more to get public back into shops, say retailers

Retailers have told Boris Johnson that his government must do more to persuade the public that it is safe to travel to work and shop or risk needless job losses and store closures, as data showed city centres suffering from a lack of office workers.

The British Retail Consortium said its monthly survey of footfall showed that empty office blocks were leaving city centres bare of potential customers even though lockdown restrictions had been gradually eased.

Despite the boost provided by the Treasury’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, the number of shoppers was more than a third lower in August than in the same month of 2019, the BRC said.

The BRC said deserted workplaces and difficulty in persuading shoppers that they would be safe from Covid-19 in shops had taken a heavy toll on city centres.