Addressing delegates, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, the retail industry was facing one of the most difficult times in its history. We saw companies like Mothercare and BHS go into administration, as well as many other high street brands closing stores and making significant redundancies. Then, as the pandemic hit, there was an acceleration of the trend towards online shopping. High streets were deserted and people got more into the habit of shopping online.
“It is clear that the sector urgently needs a retail recovery plan. Usdaw continues to campaign for the Government to introduce a genuine plan to 'Save our Shops', with business rates reform being one of our key demands. Fundamental reform of the system is central to the revival of the high street. The current system is not fit for purpose, placing bricks and mortar retailers at a significant disadvantage to online retail and action has to be taken to level the playing field.
“We are all aware of the extortionate parking fees in town and city centres and on our high streets. Such charges are hugely damaging to the retail sector, driving customers online, and away from bricks and mortar retailers. In many cases parking charges can make a trip to the shops more expensive than online delivery fees, even before rocketing petrol prices are taken into account. Change is desperately needed.
“That's why Usdaw has previously called for a review of town and city centre parking charges, as part of a package of measures needed to save our shops. It's crucial that access to shops is made as easy and affordable as possible. No-one should be excluded from being able to visit our high streets as a result of not being able to afford to park their car.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Usdaw’s Save our Shops campaign: www.usdaw.org.uk/SaveOurShops
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion