telegraph coronavirus appeal
'Behind every shop door there is a person whose livelihood relies on someone coming in and buying the stock they've got' Credit: E+/PeopleImages
Telegraph Coronavirus Appeal: 'The high street will never be the same again, but it's not dead'-福利微拍视频


Like many, Gian Algieri has no idea when she might be able to go back to work. Her dog grooming salon and shop in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, may be mothballed and her work deemed non-essential, but she knows that her loyal client base, built up of over the past five years, will be ready and waiting for her as soon as she is allowed to reopen; scruffy-haired dogs in tow. She just hopes that she’ll still have the keys to the shop door. 

With no money coming in, and still with rent and overheads to cover, she is using every last penny of her small savings to keep her business afloat. Currently living with her sister and brother-in-law, she has no property of her own.

They have kindly agreed for her to stop paying them rent for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Algieri, having never claimed benefits before in her life, has begun the process of claiming Universal Credit after using the benefit calculators on the website of Turn2us, the nationwide poverty charity which is being supported by the Telegraph's Coronavirus Appeal

Gian Algieri has had to close her business in Milford Haven Credit: Jay Williams

三级成人视频In the meantime, she is waiting to hear back from her local authority about the business grants the government has promised small businesses like hers.

三级成人视频“I try not to get down too much because we’re all in the same boat,” says the 52-year-old former security officer. “I don't earn a lot of money, but I'm passionate about my shop. It's something I built up on my own and I have so many customers and I love them all. Right now, though, I’ve got a diary full of dogs and unfortunately I can't do any of them.”

She is just one person of the 2.9 million who are employed in the retail sector in the UK. Of those, 1.67 million are employed on a part-time basis - these are typically people on low wages and in vulnerable employment positions. 

三级成人视频Since March 16, Turn2us has seen 41,755 people working in the retail sector come to them for help with accessing benefits because of the Covid-19 crisis. Of that number, 38 per cent were receiving no pay at all, while another 16 per cent have already lost their job or been made redundant.

The troubles on the high street were already well documented, and there’s a real worry amongst retailers that when lockdown ends, things may never return to how they were. 

三级成人视频“Internet sales were 20 per cent of all sales and climbing," says Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA). "I suspect at the  moment they are probably nearer 80 per cent, and when we get through this crisis I very much doubt they’ll drop below 60. That will be a real hammer blow to the high street and independent retailers.”

The announcement that shops had to close from midnight on Monday March 23 gave retailers only four hours' notice; little time to shore up the security of their premises and Goodacre says there have already been reports of squatters getting into some buildings. 

三级成人视频However, the Government has responded with the most substantial package of financial support in the history of the high street. A business rates holiday for everyone, new grants of up to £25,000 for most independents, easier access to loans, and more. 

And yet, says Goodacre: “Without income it's very difficult to look after yourself, let alone to pay suppliers for goods you may have ordered in February. So even if you do reopen, the chances are that if you need stock you might struggle to get it because your credit worthiness will be broken. 

三级成人视频“Small fashion retailers with new spring stock will find it is out of date, and will need to find money to buy more.”

He has spoken with many BIRA members, including those with long-standing family businesses, who have already had to fold. And he worries about those who have come recently to the sector, pouring their enthusiasm and their savings into their small businesses. 

“Behind every shop door there is a person whose livelihood relies on someone coming in and buying the stock they've got,” says Goodacre.

Jason Mather in his shop M&M Stoves in Dorset Credit: Christopher Pledger

Jason Mather is one such small retailer who opened his shop in Blandford Forum, Dorset, a year ago. 

三级成人视频After fitting wood burners for ten years, he took the plunge and opened his own shop, buying in stock, renting premises and leasing a van. 

“It was just starting to pick up, believe it or not. People were realising we were there and I had three months of work lined up before all this happened,” says Mather, 55.

He hopes those same clients will still want his services once lockdown is over. In the meantime, there’s no income, only outgoings. Having operated in a self-employed capacity for only a year, he doesn’t have the income records required to qualify for the grants which will be paid to people in June.

Telegraph Coronavirus Appeal: 'The high street will never be the same again, but it's not dead'-福利微拍视频


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He used the Turn2us benefits calculator, but because he is ex-military and thus on a military pension, he cannot claim Universal Credit. Right now he has no income and is living month-to-month in an especially uncertain time.

三级成人视频“My pension only covers my mortgage,” says Mather. “And my landlord says he needs the rent to pay his own employees. My worst fear is that I’ll lose the shop over this.” 

It’s not just small retailers who are suffering. With Debenhams and Cath Kidston going into administration and even speculation that John Lewis might not reopen all of its stores, many in the sector are wondering if there will even be jobs for employees to come back.

三级成人视频“Retail shed 10,000 jobs in January alone as a national sector,” says Goodacre.

三级成人视频He fears the current crisis will accelerate the changes that were inevitable for the high street. “If people were forecasting what the high street might look like in five years time, with more of us online shopping, I think Covid-19 has brought five years into five weeks.”

三级成人视频However Alex Schlagman,  Founding Partner of , says: “The high street will never be the same again, but it is not dead.”

三级成人视频For him, continued Government support is necessary, but only one part of the solution.

“Approximately 500,000 high street outlets across approximately 7,500 high streets need to act now; delivering an effective transition plan to survive, adapt and continue serving their local communities, during and after the lockdowns,” he says. 

三级成人视频Last week  launched a support programme for independent high street business owners in the UK during the crisis.  

“We will work closely with each business on this programme for at least 12 weeks to develop and implement a new and highly personalised plan; considering everything they could be doing to protect, adapt and even grow their business in 2020," says Schlagman.

Regardless, when some form of normality returns, the future of the high street may depend on how we all act.

Goodacre agrees: “My message to consumers is to support your local high street, and preferably independents, but you need a combination of chains and independents for a thriving high street."

To make a donation to the Telegraph Coronavirus Appeal please visit or call 0151 284 1927 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)