Retailers bore the brunt of the worst violence to erupt on Britain’s streets for 30 years this week, as rioters caused millions of pounds worth of damage to high streets across England.
Although PM David Cameron eased pressure on retailers racing to file insurance claims under the Riot Damages Act 1886 by extending the deadline from 14 to 42 days and launching a £20m high-street support scheme for affected businesses, independents admitted they were seriously considering quitting.
Convenience stores, discounters, supermarkets indeed retailers and wholesalers of all shapes and sizes were hit, but it was the plight of independents that was most poignant.
Ismal Patel, the owner of City Centre Newsagents in Salford, told The Grocer he was “60:40” on reopening after his store was looted and torched by 100 youths on Tuesday, causing £70,000 worth of damage. “It’s all destroyed,” he said. “We closed at 4.30pm but they ripped the shutters out and got in. They made off with £24,000 of cigarettes and £2,000 of scratchcards. They smashed my fridges, torched the magazines and ripped out the CCTV. At the moment, I don’t know if I want to open again. I’ve run this shop for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. My staff are too scared to work here.”
The ACS said 93 member stores had been targeted. It urged those affected to put in their insurance claims as quickly as possible.
Public affairs director Shane Brennan said even retailers with good insurance cover should get claims in under the Riot Act as it would avoid premium hikes.
The multiples were also targeted. Up to 200 Tescos closed early, while six suffered serious damage. Of these, all bar one, a “severely damaged” Express in Liverpool, were expected to be trading again by this weekend. Sainsbury’s said 16 stores were damaged, while four Morrisons in the London area were affected. Over 30 Co-operative Group food stores were damaged, with one near Croydon razed to the ground.
The FWD received 14 reports of incidents at depots between Sunday and Tuesday, most in London. Property was damaged but stock loss was minimal, a spokesman said.
Some C&Cs also reported slow trade on Tuesday as retailers were reluctant to leave their stores or stock up in anticipation of further violence. Booker said it had suffered minor incidents at some branches.
Twenty-four hour security forces were brought in to patrol all six JJ Food Service branches after the Sony warehouse in Enfield, opposite its flagship depot and head office, was set ablaze on Monday night. Managing director Mustafa Kiamil said JJ’s trading had continued as normal.