UK government to help retailers bounce back from COVID-19

LONDON – With persistent COVID-19 and the final Brexi looming, the UK government is looking to bolster the future prospects of consumer and retail businesses with a toolkit to boost exports and e-commerce.

Earlier this year, the government offered financial support to small businesses and backed a £ 35.4bn national holiday scheme, but this latest move, from the UK’s Department for International Trade, is not a question of ‘money.

Instead, he wants to offer training, advice and guidance for companies looking to recover from COVID-19 and move to a new standard of negotiation outside the European Union.

While the UK officially left the EU on January 31, it is still in a period of transition, trading with the bloc as usual and playing by its rules. On December 31, this will all come to an end and the UK will no longer be part of the EU customs union and the single market.

The UK has spent the past nine months negotiating free trade agreements with countries such as the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and is currently locked in heated talks with the EU on what their future trade relations will look like.

On Tuesday, the International Trade Ministry said its new measures would offer “immediate support for businesses” by bringing in specialists to provide advice on online retail and international markets.

DIT is also launching a Consumer and Retail Export Academy which will seek to provide businesses with “the knowledge, skills and networks necessary” to increase exports.

The government office said e-commerce was at the heart of its plans and developed measures to help consumer and retail companies develop international, multi-channel and e-commerce strategies “tailored to the sales environment. mutating”.

According to the organization, the value of online retail sales has increased by more than 300% over the past 10 years, and the trend is expected to continue due to the coronavirus. The value of UK retail sales reached £ 395bn in 2019, an increase of 3.8% from the previous year.

“We recognize that the coronavirus has posed challenges for many industries, including the consumer and retail industry, where everything depends on face-to-face interactions. This support package will give businesses the boost they need to adapt their methods and prosper in the future, ”said Graham Stuart, MP and Minister of Exports.

“More trade and investment are absolutely essential if industry – and our economy as a whole – is to overcome these challenges. These measures provide both short and long term support to companies that employ so many people across the UK, ”he added.

Retail, already a struggling sector in the UK, has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19, with job losses amounting to 235,704 this year and store closures reaching 20,620, according to the Center for Retail Research.

Many UK retail chains have collapsed, while department stores – Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer – have all cut their jobs.

In addition to the COVID-19 crisis and post-Brexit trade readiness, UK businesses have faced high tariffs on exports to the United States, a retaliatory measure in the Airbus / Boeing dispute.

Helen Brocklebank, Managing Director of Walpole, which represents high-end consumer companies in various industries, said the organization praised “the measures and support” from DIT.

“This new support package will be incredibly beneficial for all businesses. Eighty percent of UK luxury goods by value are destined for export markets including the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East and, if face to face sales to non-UK resident clients on our own soil remain crucial, this support will enable companies to maximize their income under very difficult circumstances. It will be an incredible boost, especially for SMEs which form the backbone of British luxury, exporting British creativity, craftsmanship and design to the world, ”she said.

According to Walpole, UK luxury brands support more than 160,000 sustainable and skilled jobs across the UK and contribute £ 48 billion a year to the economy.

“The pandemic and the inability and unwillingness of visitors to make it to our shores have had a devastating impact on these businesses,” Brocklebank added.

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