Hundreds of thousands of  non-essential retailers face ANOTHER six weeks with their door closed

What counts as essential retail NOW? Garden centres can stay open but  hundreds of thousands of shops that had managed to stay open will close for at least six weeks

  • All non-essential shops must close their doors for the next six weeks
  • Yet another blow for the UK high street which is already on its knees
  • More than 550,000 firms will close, according to real estate adviser Altus Group

Hundreds of thousands of retailers face weeks more with their doors closed after the Government closed them for six more weeks under the new lockdown.

It is a new blow for the UK high street in 2021, with the sector still on its knees after the horror show that was 2020.

As with the previous two lockdowns only those shops which sell items or provide services that people cannot live without will be allowed to operate.

The vast majority of these are in food and drink and medical supplies, but they also extend to retails involved in keeping businesses going.

Many of these businesses have already been closed since Christmas in regions placed into Tier 4.

But the lockdown will see more than 550,000 business closures in England, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

The company said this included 401,690 non-essential shops, 64,537 pubs or restaurants, 20,703 personal care facilities and 7,051 gyms or leisure centres.

The Government tonight released guidance including a list of what constitutes essential and non-essential businesses.

Essential businesses include food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and off-licences.

Among those on the non-essential list are clothes shops, car showrooms, betting shops and mobile phone shops.

Business leaders have reacted with despair to the fresh lockdown announced by Boris Johnson amid fears that companies may not last until the spring. 

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: ‘Businesses will understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on the spiralling threat to public health, but they will be baffled and disappointed by the fact that he did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.

Clothes shops are non-essential retailers and will have to be closed for the next six weeks of lockdown

But supermarkets will be allowed to remain open for essential food shopping

But supermarkets will be allowed to remain open for essential food shopping

‘The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland today are a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period.

‘Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.

‘Billions have already been spent helping good firms to survive this unprecedented crisis and to save jobs. These businesses must not be allowed to fail now, when the vaccine rollout provides light at the end of this long tunnel.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘The resurgence of the virus is aggravating the pain for businesses.

‘For companies in sectors like tourism and hospitality, the vaccine-led recovery still seems a long way off. Even for organisations that can operate remotely, the closure of schools and nurseries could cause significant staffing headaches.

‘The Treasury must now bolster support for the worst affected sectors. In particular, it should seek to reinforce the discretionary grant scheme allocated through local authorities, which has helped to reach those who have fallen through the gaps.

‘It will also be crucial to smooth the cliff-edge in support that’s fast approaching in the spring.’

Lockdown 3: What is an essential business? 

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • Market stalls selling essential retail  items like food and drink
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • Funeral directors
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Medical and dental services


  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Mobility and disability support shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • Places of worship
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds


Lockdown 3: what ‘non-essential businesses must close? 

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (excluding rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. (These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect off-premises, and delivery services).
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs (they can remain open for takeaway and delivery of food and non-alcoholic drinks).   
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, 
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts,fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.


  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks
  • Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves)
  • Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, stately homes and landmarks –  though outdoor grounds can stay open for exercise.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. They can also not be done in private homes.
  • Community centres and halls.