UK riots: what the retailers think

Handmade-jewellery maker Alexis Whiteford works from a creative studio by London Fields in Hackney. She tells us she’s worried about an attack on the studio: “There’s lots of young, creative people here trying to make a living and earning just enough money to live on. We’re not all wealthy ‘hipsters’. We can’t afford insurance to replace damaged property. 

“I understand that controversy is often the only way to gain attention from Westminster, but I don’t condone this violence on innocent victims,” she adds. “It is being aimed at the wrong people.”

Frederic Nze, the boss of London-based high street financial services provider Oakam, says that despite severe riots in some of his store neighbourhoods such as Dalston, Barking, Croydon and Lewisham, the company was able to open all 15 Oakam stores for business as usual today. 

“We plan to do everything we can to serve our communities and not let these incidents of violence and destruction affect our customers,” he says. “We’re keeping close contact with the local authorities and are monitoring the situation closely. If there should be any signs that the situations will worsen, customers will be informed and staff sent home in good time.” 

As well as the costs of repairing the damage to stores, many firms have been shutting their doors early and will be losing out on vital trading hours, in what is already a difficult consumer environment.

The British Retail Consortium is to ask the Home Secretary Theresa May for immediate support to help shopkeepers protect their properties in the wake of the disturbances in London and other cities – including practical assistance in clearing up and discussions with the insurance industry to keep affordable premiums in areas most badly hit. It is also asking banks to offer short to medium-term credit arrangements to help retailers to refit and reopen.

According to the BBC today, businesses affected include:

  • About 157 Tesco stores in London, Liverpool and Bristol were closed overnight or shortened their opening hours as a precautionary measure, while 26 stores “suffered varying degrees of damage”.
  • Sainsbury’s says 16 stores had experienced “serious incidents” and three convenience stores remained closed.
  • Argos says some stores would be closing early after 18 of its branches had suffered various degrees of damage.
  • JD Sports and Carphone Warehouse both say a number of stores were looted or damaged.
  • Debenhams says that it was working with the police and that its Clapham Junction store remained closed after it was looted on Monday night.
  • Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre and several shops on the high street all closed early today.
  • Sony says that UK deliveries of CDs and DVDs could be affected after a fire hit its warehouse in Enfield. The company sent sent staff working in its Kensington offices home early.

Store owners are required to put in insurance claims for riot damage within a very short period – typically seven days – otherwise the claim may be rejected. Businesses that have suffered riot damage that don’t have property insurance can also make a claim to recover their losses directly from the police under the RDA – although the compensation won’t extend to the financial losses of the business while it is unable to trade.

Let us know about your experiences by posting a comment below.

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