Chancellor Rishi Sunak has released the budget for 2021. Addressing the government’s spending plans for the next twelve months, Sunak announced new measures to help businesses and jobs throughout the pandemic and to support the UK’s economic recovery – but what does this mean for the high street?
Help for the High Street
Sunak unveiled a £5bn scheme for high street shops and hospitality firms with the promise of more support to come for the economy. Under these new budget plans, non-essential retail stores will be eligible for direct cash grants of up to £6,000 per premise to help them start trading again when lockdown measures are lifted. The furlough scheme is also set to continue until September with firms required to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September as the scheme is phased out.
Speaking at the release of the budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, “local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic – which is why we went big and went early with a multibillion-pound package of support. There’s now light at the end of the tunnel”.
The past year has seen economic shifts leading to a notable acceleration in the uptake of online shopping. Stores such as Primark who shunned eCommerce instead favouring to operate entirely through physical sites have felt the pinch the hardest. The Irish high-street staple has reported potential losses of £1bn. These figures are in stark contrast to the likes of digital giants ASOS and Boohoo whose sales increased by 40% in Q4.
The great consumer shift has seen many consumers shopping digitally, in fact, data shows that 44% of buyers expect to permanently change their shopping habits. A second study concluded that 50% of people aged 16-75 said they would continue their digitally converted shopping habits well after lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
When speaking with Retail Week during their Accelerator Week last month, our CEO Martin predicted that physical sites will turn to showrooms and purchases being made digitally.
What are your thoughts on post-lockdown eCommerce? We’d love to hear your thoughts!