REGULATIONS allowing retail giants to sell non-essential items have been branded a ‘shambles’ by an Omagh business owner who has been forced to close his shop.
Under the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions, all shops deemed non-essential have been closed and are not allowed to operate a click and collect service.
However, large supermarkets continue to sell clothes, books, toys and homeware over the post-Christmas and New Year period while independent retailers remain closed despite selling similar items.
Robert Watson, of Classic Urbanwear in Omagh, said it is ‘totally unfair’ that he cannot open his store, yet bigger businesses can operate fully and sell similar items to his stock.
Mr Watson said, “Big businesses who have loads of financial backing are able to open and do as they want whenever they like.
“I have a small business and we are not allowed to trade or even operate a click and collect service.
“I think it is an absolute shambles and it is just wrong.
“We have tried to contact Arlene Foster and other political representatives but they do not even respond to our concerns.”
The Executive ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses on Christmas Eve, but supermarkets have not been ordered to stop selling non-essential items.
One local woman also contacted the UH to voice her concerns on the issue.
She said, “I am just curious as to why some non-essential retailers are continuing to operate their clothing department during lockdown.
“Apparently, even with the department being taped off customers can continue to ‘shop as normal’ and I am wondering how that is fair when other non-essential shops have to close.”
Retail NI has asked the Executive to allow independent retailers to operate a click and collect service and warned that some businesses will not survive this third lockdown as they have already lost vital trading times at the start of December and January.
Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said, “It is blatantly unfair that local independent retailers who sell books, toys, clothes and homeware are unable to open nor operate a click and collect service while large supermarkets can remain
open, sell these products and continue to make substantial profits.”
Posted: 8:02 pm January 10, 2021