You can see the latest (and final) consumer sentiment report here from BVA-BDRC.

  • National mood and sentiment pick up
  • Consumers are feeling better about their finances than at the start of the crisis
  • Restaurants, pubs and shopping malls continue to see growth in re-engagement
  • Advertising: consumers show preference for ‘normality’ and an absence of virtue signalling

COVID UPDATE (as at Fri 21 Aug):

Political Updates

  • Local spikes: Birmingham may be added to the Government’s Coronavirus watchlist as an “Area of Concern”. Public Health England publish a weekly National Surveillance Report which pulls together all the information on Coronavirus cases across the country. From this, they develop a Watchlist by considering the local authorities with the highest weekly incidence rate, the trend in this rate, and a range of other indicators including the test positivity rate, an assessment of the local response and plans, and healthcare activity.

 There is a three-stage classification given to areas added to the watchlist:

  • Areas of concern: This is where cases are increasing and local targeted actions are needed to reduce prevalence e.g. additional testing in care homes and increased community engagement with high risk groups
     
  • Areas for enhanced support: If local targeted actions don’t succeed, areas move on to Enhanced Support where a more detailed plan agreed with the national team is implemented, with additional resources being provided to support the local team (e.g. epidemiological expertise, additional mobile testing capacity)
     
  • Areas of intervention: If the enhanced support fails to bring the outbreak under control, a further detailed action plan is implemented which includes changes to the rules on social distancing and business operations.
     
  • Spectator guidance has been updated and added to the phased return of sport and recreation guidance.

 Government Updates

  • HMRC CJRS Repayment Phoneline and Videos: HMRC has implemented a new phone service for businesses that want to make a voluntary repayment of any money that has been overpaid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and where the company is not submitting anther claim. The number is 0300 322 9430.
     
  • HMRC has also updated its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme videos for claiming the second grant and for Universal Credit and Child Benefit.
     
  • Face covering
    • Guides: Speaking as a guide comes under the exemption that it is required for their job (e.g. a vicar giving a sermon or news reporter is in a similar position) and don’t have to wear a face covering for this reason.
       
    • For private coaches: passengers wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged as it is an enclosed public space. Although coaches are private transport vehicles, if it is a tour group, generally people will be mixing with people outside of their household so they should wear face coverings. See also the Guidance on face coverings for public transport

 Devolved administrations

  • Reopening in Scotland: On Thursday, the First Minister confirmed that Scotland will not move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 but announced a number of changes to the Phase 3 lockdown restrictions. 

From today (Monday 24th August), the following will be permitted:

  • Live events (outdoors) with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and restricted numbers following relevant guidance.
  • Snooker/ pool halls and indoor bowling facilities can re-open – following guidance.
  • Amusement arcades and casinos can re-open following guidance including enhanced hygiene.
  • Nicola Sturgeon also announced an indicative restart date of 14 September for a range of settings and activities, including indoor entertainment venues such as theatres (with restricted capacity), the limited reopening of stadia (with restricted numbers), a wider range of outdoor events such as concerts with standing audiences and the resumption of indoor contact sports for adults and young people – all subject to appropriate guidance.
     
  • It was confirmed that, following the new regulations that make the collection of customer details mandatory and the introduced statutory guidance for the hospitality sector, powers will be given to local authorities to ensure that the government guidance is being implemented within the sector and will have the power to act by way of closure in respect of individual, specific premises that are breaching guidelines and risking transmission of the virus.
     
  • You can download the updated route map announced here

Industry updates

  • Test and trace: The BII, BBPA and UKHospitality have jointly written an open letter to the hospitality sector, reiterating the vital importance of accurate and robust Test & Trace data collection as a critical part of Covid secure measures.

 Data and Insight

  • Updated data until 16 August is available for how local authorities have received and distributed funding to support small and medium businesses in England during coronavirus
     
  • The latest data for transport use during COVID-19 has been published.
     
  • ONS has produced another report on economic and social trends which has some interesting data including
    • Footfall across all retail locations is rose 68% of what it was last year, despite the need to wear face masks in most shops
    • 95% of businesses in the UK are now open
    • Only 12% of the workforce is now on furlough
    • 57% of businesses reported that their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for this time of year
    • Only 11% of businesses said that they faced a moderate or severe risk of insolvency

 Tourism Updates

  • Travel corridors: Ministers have agreed to add Portugal to the list of exempt countries, following a decrease in the number of confirmed cases. This addition applies UK-wide and will also be effective from 04:00 on Saturday 22nd August. Passengers from Portugal arriving before this time will still need to self-isolate upon arrival into the UK. You can see the announcement here.

    Ministers have agreed to remove the following from the list of exempt countries:
  • Croatia
  • Austria
  • Trinidad and Tobago
     
  • Visa Applications: Updated guidance is available for customers outside of the UK who may be affected by Visa Application Centre closures.
     
  • Duty Free Shopping Campaign: The New West End Company’s campaign aims to extend tax-free shopping to visitors from EU member states at the end of the Transition Period on December 31st 2020 as one of a package of measures needed to support the recovery of international tourism. Two thirds of visitors to the UK are from the EU and VisitBritain research shows that around a quarter of all overseas visitor expenditure in the UK is on shopping – which means that offering tax free shopping would be a big incentive for Europeans to visit the UK.
     
  • The New West End Company has calculated that moving to duty free shopping for EU members could add over £2.3 billion to retail and tourism sales annually and it is kicking-off the campaign with a letter from New West End Company Chairman, Sir Peter Rogers, to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
     
  • Businesses in support of the campaign can add their name to this letter to reflect the benefits that allowing duty free shopping would bring to the recovery of the UK tourism industry.
     
  • You can read the letter here: https://internationalretail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-08-19-TFS-letter-2.pdf and add your company’s details to be a cosignatory by clicking here: https://internationalretail.co.uk/sign-up-form

  Other Government Updates

  • Points-Based Immigration System – Employer Information: The Home Office has updated it’s guidance on the Points-based Immigration System to provide employees an overview of the new system and explains how employers are affected. The updated guidance and two new video explainers are available here.  
  • From 1 January 2021, if businesses want to recruit anyone from outside the UK you must be a Home Office licensed sponsor. If any of your members are thinking of recruiting from overseas next year, they should apply to be a sponsor now. Details on how to do this are available here.
  • To kept updated on the new immigration system you can sign up to receive email updates on the new immigration system here

 Situation update 20 August 2020