Analysis: Can retail survive a second national coronavirus lockdown?

A second lockdown is possible as Covid cases rise

As Covid restrictions tighten and the prospect looms of further ‘circuit breaker’ measures, Retail Week looks at how the industry would fare in a second lockdown.

There is increasing concern about rising coronavirus cases, and at the weekend, health secretary Matt Hancock warned that the country was at a “tipping point”. While the government may hope to avoid a complete national lockdown, it was clear that was a possibility as Hancock urged the public to “follow the rules” in order to avoid it.

The warning came in the wake of localised lockdowns in many parts of England, including the North East at the end of last week. Altogether, local lockdowns already affect about 13.5 million people in England. 

A circuit break, unlike the months of lockdown that began in March and which pushed some retailers over the edge, might only last a few weeks. However, fragile footfall and the closeness of the crucial Christmas trading period make the retail industry nervous. Retailers are doing their part to minimise the chances of a surge in infection – at the weekend, Morrisons, for instance, stepped up marshalling at its stores.

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