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Express & Star comment: Themes starting to emerge in lockdown

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

We may only be in the early stages of what is likely to be a prolonged lockdown, but already a number of themes are starting to emerge.

Unsurprisingly, Britain’s high street retailers suffered their worst month on record in March, as trade was decimated by measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Compared to the same month last year, like-for-like sales have nosedived and profits on non essential items have been completely wiped out.

Fashion and lifestyle stores have been particularly badly hit, as the disappearance of shoppers from our town and city centres took an immediate toll.

Meanwhile our supermarkets are reporting a massive upturn in sales as people race to keep their larders full. Trade has been so good that many stores are rewarding workers for their sterling efforts.

Marks & Spencer is giving shop floor workers in its food stores an extra 15 per cent pay, while Morrisons plans to reward staff with a bonus worth more than £1,000. Asda is giving its staff an extra week’s pay in June – the equivalent of a 25 per cent bonus for the month – and Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have already promised staff an extra 10 per cent.

This is an extremely difficult time for all shop workers, and they all deserve great credit for keeping people’s homes stocked with essential items during the crisis. In many ways they are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis.

It is entirely right that we praise our hard working NHS staff for the work they are doing to save people’s lives throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

But we must also recognise the efforts of those who are providing our food, from those who are staffing our biggest supermarkets to those workers who are keeping the smallest corner shops and convenience stores running. That includes the people working the tills, those who are stacking the shelves and the security guards who are manning the doors.

It will take a huge collective effort to keep the country fed and watered over the coming months. Thankfully plenty are rising to the challenge.

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