Shoppers urged to return to cities as retailers warn ‘battle for sales is like World War Three’

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RETAILERS in two of our most famous shopping areas have called on readers to save our cities, describing the battle they face as being “like World War Three”.

HOAR on Sunday visited stores in London and Newcastle, where shop owners are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19.

Retailers are urging shoppers to return to famous shopping areas

Shop owners in London and Newcastle are still reeling from the effects of the crisis

Experts said their empty outlets and flat-lining sales reflect the picture across the country and last night called on people across the nation to dip into their ­wallets and purses to bring them back from the brink.

John McKenna Jnr and John McKenna Snr work at Oxford Street Bags, which has been in their family for 98 years — but some days their takings have been down 90 per cent.

John Jnr said: “We were here in the aftermath of World War One, we were here for World War Two and now this is like World War Three happening.

“In a couple of months’ time, so many small businesses are going to fold. They won’t be here.

“The last financial crash was bad enough. But this is worse. Please come and support us.”

A year ago people had to queue to get into Oxford Street’s flagship Microsoft store — now the blinds are down and a poster says it is temporarily closed due to Covid-19 health concerns.

John McKenna says his daily takings are down by 90 per cent and that many small businesses will fold

Angela Taylor says the pandemic has been the worst challenge her business has ever faced

Eighteen stores in Oxford Street are either temporarily or permanently closed including Aldo, HMV, TM Lewin and ­Carphone Warehouse.

Mark Impleton, 55, who runs the Gourmet Waffle Company, said: “There are no tourists or workers and shoppers are put off by the weekend £15 congestion charge.

“This is the worst I’ve known it. I want to say to the British ­public, ‘We rely on you. Will you help save Oxford Street?”

In Newcastle’s Grainger Street, married Angela, 53, and Paul ­Taylor, 54, have run Amblergem Jewellers for 20 years.

Angela, who reopened the store on June 15, said: “This shop has been here two decades.

“This pandemic is the worst challenge the business has ever faced. Since we reopened we are 65 to 70 per cent less busy.”

Pensioner Alan Hughes, who has run the Fruit and Nut ­Company in Grainger Market for 30 years, said: “I keep saying it’s bound to get better next week, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Alex Schlagman, co-founder of savethehighstreet.org, warned: “The next few weeks may prove to be the most important in the history of Britain’s High Streets.

“Everyone should realise it’s now time to ‘use it or lose it’. A future of boarded-up ghost towns across the UK is a real threat.”

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