VAT could be slashed to help get Brits spending again and boost the economy.
Rishi Sunak is believed to be considering a temporary VAT cut to get the high street back on its feet.
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According to The Times, the Chancellor is looking at reducing consumption taxes to boost Britain’s struggling retailers.
They have warned a combination of nervous shoppers and the two-metre distancing rule mean shops are still at risk of going bust.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The reopening of non-essential shops from today is unlikely to deliver immediate relief.
“The government should consider options to stimulate demand, such as a short-term reduction in VAT or a temporary income tax cut for lower-income workers.”
The Treasury is believed to have looked at the idea of a VAT cut, but will make no decision until data reveals if shoppers are spending again.
Mr Sunak yesterday acknowledged many would be anxious at the prospect of going shopping again but stressed measures had been put in place to ensure public safety.
Today Boris Johnson urged Brits to “breathe life into their high streets” as he backed our Bounce Back Britain campaign.
The PM praised The Sun’s bid to get people spending in the shops as they open for the first time since lockdown today.
He visited a shopping centre to see the coronavirus social distancing measures being taken.
The PM is eager to reignite the economy which has taken a 20 per cent hit in the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: “Shops across England have been working hard to make their stores Covid-secure and ready to reopen from Monday, when they will lift their shutters, switch on the lights and open their doors again.
“We have been taking every step possible to help them through this difficult time — from loans and cash grants to business rates holidays — so they can quickly get back on their feet.
“We can all do our bit to help breathe life back into our high streets and I applaud The Sun’s Bounce Back Britain campaign for encouraging people to do just that.”
Our campaign, launched last week, has been offering readers practical advice, detailed guides and a host of money-saving offers as life slowly returns to normal.
We’ve urged our readers to start spending money on the high street to get our economy going again.
Mr Johnson had a look around the shops at Westfield Stratford shopping centre in East London.
'I AM VERY OPTIMISTIC'
As non-essential stores got ready to open for the first time since March, he said: “I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should, of course, observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.
“I am very optimistic about the opening up that’s going to happen.”
But he warned that the threat of the virus had not been totally eliminated so shoppers should still be careful when out and about.
He added: “I think that it’s important that we see a gradual build-up. What I want to see is safety.
“That’s our priority as the British people have spent three months really knocking this virus down, getting it right down.”
Federation of Small Businesses chair Mike Cherry said the reopening would support small firms which were the backbone of the economy.
'I just can’t wait to get back to the high street'
By Mary Portas, Queen of Shops
LIKE millions of shoppers I can’t wait to get back to the high street today after months of lockdown.
We’ve been able to buy non-essential items online.
But I’ve missed browsing in bricks and mortar shops.
I’m sure many people will feel the same and say: “Let’s get out and buy, buy, buy.”
Social distancing won’t put shoppers off because we’re already used to it.
And with “sale of the century” discounts aiming to clear unsold stock we could see a bonanza for the businesses that reopen.
The bounce-back may have some stores reporting record sales in the first week.
It happened in China when shoppers went on a “revenge spree” after being cooped up in their homes for weeks.
But it could suddenly retract here as people watch their spending because of the uncertain future.
Retailers who will suffer when this happens are the middle brands like Marks & Spencer and John Lewis.
I fear we’re going to see the death of more of the middle ground.
And I worry when an M&S director says the peak business will be in retail parks.
That’s the place where shoppers don’t want to be.
They want to shop near home and will keep going to the businesses that supported them during lockdown.
Coronavirus has taught us that shops are a really important part of our lives.
Now’s the time to help keep them alive.
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