Tower Hamlets retailers and businesses prepare to welcome back customers
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 June 2020
© John Sturrock
People are being urged to shop locally to help small businesses and retailers thrive after the coronavirus lockdown.
Spitalfields Market and stores deemed non-essential by the government are preparing to welcome back customers from Monday, June 15.
Richard Burge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “As the lockdown begins to ease with more retailers reopening, yet the need to reduce the pressure on London’s transport system continuing, there’s no better time for Londoners to support businesses that are local to them.”
At Spitalfields, The Traders Market is set to operate with 50 stalls redesigned with perspex screens and spacing to provide protection for stallholders and customers.
Shops are expected to reopen where two metre social distancing can be maintained while a one-way system is due to be in place in Market Street and Crispin Place.
Tannoy announcements, hand sanitiser and signs are also among the market’s measures.
The planned reopenings have been accompanied by a call on commercial landlords to support struggling tenants facing rent bills due at the end of the month.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and local authorities group London Councils are asking landlords to make sure business tenants get a fair deal on payments.
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They add that as businesses start to reopen, many will face cashflow problems stemming from the need to restock and put in safety measures.
Both warn that customer confidence will take time to grow and cashflow may remain restricted for a significant period.
Michael Lassman, FSB London regional chairman, said: “The negative impact of losing businesses would be more people unemployed and empty units that will be difficult to fill.”
Tenants collective Guardians of the Arches hopes businesses and retailers will benefit from people continuing to shop in their neighbourhoods and working from home.
Arches founder Leni Jones said: “The majority of our members live in the same borough as their small business.
“That creates a powerful sense of community and a strong local interest which big businesses don’t tend to have.
“Our work to ensure commercial tenants have the legal framework and collective power to negotiate affordable rents and fair lease terms with landlords is more critical now than before with many businesses across London already struggling with high rent payments before lockdown.
“These are local people, providing local trade and services, with local supply chains, employing and training local people. This money is going back into the local community. It’s an economic cycle which must be protected,” Leni said.
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