Retail unlikely to recover until UK returns to the office government warned

Retailers have called on the government to allow workers back to the office amid growing fears that they could struggle without the added footfall.

Business groups across the UK have demanded more clarity from the government over when workers will be allowed to return to the office, as city centres remain largely barren.

While non-essential retail and now pubs and restaurants have opened in a bid to kickstart the recovery of the high-street, city centre recovery is being significantly hampered by the lack of office workers.

According to the Centre for Cities think-tank, the footfall recovery in city centres has been weakest in big cities like Manchester, Liverpool and London leading to “concerns for the future of local services”.

READ MORE: 85,000 retailers launched online during lockdown in largest ecommerce shift ever recorded

Chief executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents 500 businesses in London’s busiest shopping district, Ros Morgan added: “Businesses that are permitted to open are going to struggle until we can get back to the office.

“We want the government to allow people back if they want to return to the office. Encouragement to use public transport would be a good start. All of the employers in our area have their plans in place in line with government guidelines.”

However, the government has remained largely silent on when it could encourage workers back to the office, remaining cautious of forcing workers onto crowded public transport prematurely and sparking a second wave which would ultimately be more damaging for the economy.

Officials suggested that the guidance was unlikely to change before the summer holiday’s ended in September.

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