Traders’ fury at ‘unfairness’ of shopping lockdown loopholes

Traders’ fury at ‘unfairness’ of shopping lockdown loopholes and its impact

“This is blatant discrimination by the government and no amount of financial support will compensate for the loss of trade at the busiest time of the year”

Frustrated independent businesses in Exeter who closed due to latest lockdown restrictions have have spoken out about the ‘unfairness’ of loopholes that are being exploited by some retailers.

Bigger businesses and supermarkets which are listed as essential retailers have been able to continue selling non-essential goods such as Christmas gifts and clothing while other stores remain closed.

Chain stores such as Plymouth-based The Range, which sells groceries alongside soft furnishings and art supplies – says it’s acting within the rules.

Devon retail centre Darts Farm, which sells food and drink as well as crafted, luxury gifts, and home and lifestyle products, has also been able to sell its usual offering to customers.https://f319d52de9bb9d1d899c73fd613cb8e0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

Darts Farm Village, Topsham(Image: Neale Abbott/aeroplaneviews)

Independent lifestyle retailer Orange Tree, which is based on the Dart Farm Village site, and specialises in furniture, gifts and luxury household items, has stated it is ‘predominantly open’ for Click & Collect.

According to government guidelines, Darts Farm is classified as an essential store due to its large food offering.https://d-2981224603242244465.ampproject.net/2101230412003/frame.html

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The guidance states that stores within essential stores that are not stand alone may remain open, such as with Marks & Spencer and supermarkets.

A spokesperson for Orange Tree said: “We have all the measures in place to ensure that we provide our customers with a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”https://f319d52de9bb9d1d899c73fd613cb8e0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

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Devon Live asked local independent retailers how they feel about the latest lockdown rules.

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Exeter jewellery maker Erin Cox(Image: Erin Cox)

Erin Cox, owner of independent jewellery shop Erin Cox Jewellery in Castle Street, Exeter, said: “We are a very small jewellery shop; jewellery doesn’t require much space.

“All the jewellery is made on the premises and we have a comfortable cosy and friendly retail space to showcase the jewellery, serve customers and sit and design bespoke work by appointment.

“I also have a sister company that manufactures and retails contemporary wedding rings.

“Since the easing of the first lockdown we have followed all Covid safety advice to the letter. We diligently clean the shop and the jewellery between clients, display the NHS QR code and never allow more than three people, including staff, in the shop space at any one time. This has made trading hard to say the least.

“The ability to offer a warm and personal shopping experience is exactly what singles our little business out as unique. We pride ourselves on our customer service.https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/widgets/established/localIssues?ampreachnews&fixedheight#amp=1

“We don’t feel that our safety conscience trading environment posed a Covid risk. Being asked to close while having to walk past non-socially distanced, mask-less queues for coffee shops is galling to say the least.https://f319d52de9bb9d1d899c73fd613cb8e0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

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“The high street will be much poorer if businesses like mine our lost. These restrictions seem to clearly favour huge businesses that have the ability to run slick online trading or that are deemed as ‘essential’.

“I cannot over state how devastating the timing of this second lockdown is for my businesses in particular, but also all businesses in general.

“As a jeweller, we lost our busy pre-wedding season March to June and now we have lost the bulk of the Christmas trading season. I can only hope that my businesses will survive, but if they can emerge the other side of Christmas, they will both have to be run in a massively reduced capacity.”

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Jude Durham, owner of Toot Garook

Jude Durham, owner of Toot Garook in Queen Street, Exeter, said: “As requested by the government, I have closed my shop for the lockdown and am currently just selling online.

“It is extremely frustrating to see other retailers, that sell the same products as shops like mine, are allowed to remain open and continue to sell these non-essential products.

“Supermarkets and garden centres are taking advantage of loopholes to stock up and sell toys, clothing, books, gifts and all sorts of other non-essential items. It seems that there is one rule for some and a different rule for others.

“The lockdown is supposed to be about slowing the spread of the virus, not encouraging people to go shopping for non-essential items in selected supermarkets, shops and garden centres; they can do that online.

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“But then this isn’t a real lockdown is it? This is blatant discrimination by the government and no amount of financial support will compensate for the loss of trade at the busiest time of the year. It’s a total farce, but I’m certainly not laughing.

“It is ludicrous that people can still go inside shops to buy non-essential items from selected retailers but can’t go outdoors to play a game of golf or tennis. Sports that are socially distanced, played outdoors and are beneficial to both general fitness and mental health. It’s total nonsense.”

Hugh Manson

Hugh Manson, owner of Mansons Guitar Shop in Mccoys Arcade said he is planning to boycott shops that are being ‘greedy and selfish’.

He said: “Lockdown is not necessarily having any impact directly on us as we are offering click and collect and we have an active website. But I would say this lockdown is like a lockdown for some and not for others.

“If you happen to sell vegetables, plants and compost you are also allowed to sell nodding dogs, fluffy rugs and sofas.

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“There is one particular shop where they have purposefully designed the shop so that you have to walk through all the non-essential items to get to the garden centre. You have no choice.

“Whereas shops that sell nodding dogs, fluffy rugs and sofas are told they can’t open. If there is a lockdown it needs to be a lockdown with logic. It’s a complete farce in my opinion.

“These big retailers who can sell non-essential good are contributing to the spread of the virus. Do you want to be rich and dead, or alive? People who don’t believe this virus is spreading are barking mad. We are in it for the long haul if people aren’t sensible and are just greedy and selfish.

“I hope people will boycott these stores afterwards; I certainly will be.”

A spokesperson for Darts Farm said: “According to government guidelines, as we are predominantly a food business we are classified as an essential store.

“Whilst standalone gift and lifestyle stores must close, anywhere there is food may remain open as an essential store.

“This means that whilst customers are doing their shop, they are legally allowed to purchase non-food items from our store as well as visiting our takeaway eateries; just as you would in M&S and any other supermarket, garden centre etc.

“We have all the measures in place to ensure that we provide our customers with a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”Follow @devonlivenews

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Published by technofiend1

Kazan- Kazan National Research Technical University Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева he graduated in Economics in 1982

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