‘Online isn’t enough to sustain retail – effective test and trace is needed’

George MacDonald

“The more precisely we try to predict it, the less likely we are to be right.” That’s what Next chief executive Lord Wolfson told Retail Week about his Christmas scenario planning just a few days ago.

Wolfson could have had little idea how prescient his words would be as, over the weekend, details of a new lockdown were announced as the fight to contain Covid continues.

Next’s worst-case scenario already looks as if it could be optimistic. It envisaged the possibility of two weeks of store closures in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and factored in a 20% full-price sales decline over the fourth quarter. 

From this Thursday, so called ‘non-essential’ retail faces a shutdown in England lasting a month, although trading is still allowed in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

It could not have come at a worse time as the retail industry navigates an already disrupted peak period and hopes to recoup some of the ground lost during the first lockdown in the spring.

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