Retailers are urging the Government to launch a 'Shop Out to Help Out' scheme in summer to boost struggling independent stores after lockdown rules are eased.
Save the Street, a campaign group backed by retail expert Mary Portas and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury, is calling for a scheme similar to the Eat Out to Help Out programme, which saw customers flood restaurants when Covid restrictions were lifted last August.
Shop Out to Help Out would give customers 50 per cent off the price of goods from independent retailers up to a total of £10 from Mondays to Wednesdays for a month.
The cost would be paid by the Government from levying a sales tax on web retailers.
Save the Street, a campaign group backed by retail expert Mary Portas (left) and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury (right), is calling for a scheme similar to the Eat Out to Help Out programme, which saw customers flood restaurants when Covid restrictions were lifted last August
Miss Portas said: 'We need to act now and harness the support, need and love that people have for our high streets.'
Save the Street said to pay for the scheme Treasury officials could levy a sales tax on online retailers - many of which have benefitted from the pandemic - or use a chunk of the £1.8 billion in business rates relief which has been returned by supermarkets.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme cost the taxpayer £849 million, overshooting the £500 million estimate, after 49,000 restaurants claimed for more than 160 million meals last August.
But it gave restaurants, which had been shuttered for months, a much needed surge in income.
British households have saved up more than £170 billion since the pandemic began, as opportunities to spend have been limited.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane is hoping savers will part with as much of this cash as possible when lockdown ends, to help fuel Britain’s economic recovery.
Shop Out to Help Out would give customers 50 per cent off the price of goods from independent retailers up to a total of £10 from Mondays to Wednesdays for a month
But retail entrepreneur and founder of Save the Street, Ross Bailey, said: ‘We would be kidding ourselves to think that everything will be fine for independent retailers once they reopen on April 12.
‘The damage has been done over the last 12 months - now it is the Government’s responsibility to support these businesses and ensure they are given a fighting chance to bounce back.
‘Independent retail is the heart and soul of communities across the UK. If the Government doesn’t support them now, it won’t just bankrupt thousands of businesses, it will irrevocably damage the society we all live in.’
Shops classed as non-essential have been banned from opening their doors for three quarters of the last year, as successive lockdowns battered their trade.
UK stores have suffered £27 billion in lost sales during the pandemic, missing out on crucial pre-Christmas and Easter trade.