Click and collect should be allowed to continue in Scotland, retail industry representatives have urged.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week suggested shoppers being allowed to pre-order and then collect items could be banned in a potential tightening of the coronavirus lockdown.
In a joint letter to the Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, the retail groups express frustration that more restrictions could be imposed on the sector so soon after the latest changes.
Retailers say the latest “sudden and unexpected pronouncement” made at the Government’s coronavirus briefing means “forward visibility and certainty is being eroded” for shops.
They describe click and collect services as a “lifeline” for struggling businesses amid the forced closure of all non-essential shops and express concern at the apparent lack of evidence for such a move.
The letter is signed by the leaders of the Scottish Retail Consortium, the Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland, the Horticultural Trades Association, the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), and the Radio, Electrical and Television Retailers’ Association (Retra).
It states: “Our members undertaking these services have complied with every change to Government guidance and put in place many mitigation measures and invested significantly to keep shoppers and workers as safe as possible.
“We haven’t been sighted on any data or public health evidence as to why click and collect is now in the frame.
“As such, forced closure seems somewhat arbitrary and marginal in terms of contributing to the suppression of the virus – not least as the new ‘stay at home’ order has just come into effect and is substantially reducing footfall, which is already at a low ebb.”
It adds: “Of course, if there is clear evidence there is an unacceptable public health risk from these services remaining open and a need to legislate then of course our members would implement that – however, the consequences of ending this last opportunity for trade for many could be serious for many retailers.
“It’s just a week since the publication of Scottish Government guidance which explicitly stated that these services can continue to trade, which makes it frustrating that there is yet more talk of chopping and changing the Covid framework.
We recognise Government has to act quickly in the current environment, however we’d ask that engagement prior to public announcements adapts too.”