Businesses in the North have joined forces sending a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging for a new approach to the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter, coordinated support from business groups across the North of England, includes representatives from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, York and Sunderland.
Local coronavirus restrictions in Liverpool have caused city centre footfall traffic to drop by a third since its peak in August. Data reveals 425,000 fewer people visiting the city centre in the last month, compared with August. That represents a 10% drop week on week since the start of September.
The next five weeks is crucial for Northern cities. These are vibrant, successful, thriving city centres and visitor economies that risk being left to decline if they do not receive the support we have been calling for since early September.
Christmas is crucial for our high streets and city centres, not just in terms of spend but also footfall and tourism. For business in the retail and hospitality sectors, the run up to Christmas represents between 30 and 50% of their annual trading. On retail alone, Christmas in store sales are worth £53.1bn according to the Centre for Retail Research.
Action needs to be taken now.
People want a Christmas with their families, and cities and festive celebrations play a huge part in that. But we, along with businesses across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are driving blind.
We are asking the Government for clarity and a change in their approach. The Government wants to level up the country but it is leaving the North to fall. We need:
- To know the science behind these lockdowns that are gutting our high streets.
- Struggling businesses to be supported and that means funds now.
- Clear recovery support lines in place.
- Jobs being protected.
- A test and trace system that works so we can identify where outbreaks happen and drive numbers down.
Retail and hospitality businesses have been one of the hardest hit, they have invested tens of thousands of pounds in safety measures, they have had to police the restrictions, been on the receiving end of abuse and ultimately been told their livelihoods are at risk. More has been asked of them than almost any sectors. Businesses have played their part, it’s now the Government’s turn to play theirs.
Our cities cannot close, the country can’t afford them to.
Read letter HERE