Portsmouth traders 'fuming' over sudden Tier 4 announcement coming after thousands of pounds spent on Christmas stock

SHOCKED, fuming, and let-down – traders across Portsmouth have been left exasperated by the government’s sudden announcement that the city faces more restrictions over the Christmas period.

By Richard Lemmer
Sunday, 20th December 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 10:16 am

Last night saw prime minister Boris Johnson announce that tier four restrictions will be in place across London and much of the south east, including Portsmouth, from today until December 30 at the earliest.

The restrictions close in-person shopping at non-essential retail stores during the busiest time of the year for many small businesses.

Several small businesses owners have said the sudden announcement leaves them facing large stock purchases made in anticipation of festive trade.

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General View of Commercial Road, Portsmouth during the first national coronavirus lockdown.

Caroline Adams, who has managed Strawberry Lemonade clothes boutique in Copnor Road for the last seven years, said: 'I thought maybe if it was going to happen, it would have been during the last announcement.

‘We have done a lot of buying for this period. We have spent thousands of pounds on stock for this weekend and next week.

'And some big retailers start their sales on Monday - we might have to slash our prices online to compete.

‘I'm just really shocked - I'm feeling let down. We could have been told sooner.

Fratton Model Centre in Fratton. Picture: Habibur Rahman

'It's just awful, and I just hope we can survive.’

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Ann Salt, who has run Fratton Model Centre with her husband Brian for more than 30 years, said the store had been hoping to shift a large number of expensive remote control toys before Christmas.

She said: ‘(Saturday) was the first day of real Christmas shopping.

The Christmas coronavirus rules have changed. Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

‘Things were a bit better today.

'He should have shut us down ages ago - instead he just waits to the last minute and then we're in a lockdown.

'January is the busiest month - if we are still in tier four then, I don't know what will happen.

‘Its just ridiculous - I am absolutely fuming.’

Shaun Palmer, who has run comic book store Room 237 in Albert Road for more than seven years, is now worried about the changing his stock orders: 'Normally we would sell stuff within a month - some customers I only see once a month for periodicals.

'And we have minimum order obligations with some stock providers. So that’s worrying. It's the not knowing whether we will open in a two weeks.

'More notice would have been useful.’

All of the traders who spoke to The News hope to continue trading online with click and collect services.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, sympathised with business owners, and said they had been let down by the government acting like ‘headless turkeys’.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I understand the government needs to take action. But their system hasn't worked. It's nuts that a pub in Portchester can be open but a pub in Portsmouth is shut – both of them are served by the same hospital.

‘The government has made complete chaos of this. They need to get a grip – they could have given people more notice.

‘We should have a clear, simple system of a national lockdown until enough vulnerable people have had their vaccines.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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