The Government has clarified that ‘homeware stores’ fall within the ‘non-essential retail’ category for the purposes of the England lockdown commencing this Thursday (5th November).
While garden centres, hardware stores and building merchants are named among those offering ‘essential goods or services’, it appears that furniture stores will struggle to justify remaining open to the public.
However, unlike the first lockdown, Government guidance does state that those classified as non-essential “can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services”, leaving some freedom to operate product fulfilment.
The new national restrictions have been announced in a move to slow the rate of coronavirus infection, and initially make provision for a four-week period from Thursday 5th November to Wednesday 2nd December.
In the first lockdown, the use of the term ‘homewares’ within the list of businesses permitted to remain open sowed confusion among furniture retailers, with some interpreting the statement in their favour – only for the Prime Minister to later list furniture as one of the ‘non-essential’ retail types that only would be permitted to open later, in mid-June.
Although sales have boomed for many furniture retailers in recent months, supply levels remain a widespread problem, and the lockdown is set to seriously impact sales at what is traditionally one the busiest times of the year for the sector in-store, while further accelerating the transition to online.