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Non-food businesses face a cash crisis as Christmas approaches, Labour warns

NON-FOOD retail businesses have lost £61 billion and face a cash crisis as Christmas approaches, Labour warned today.

The party obtained figures from the government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealing the monthly turnover of hospitality, leisure and non-food retail service industries from January 2019 to the present.

Shut-down sectors like hospitality and leisure have seen turnover tumble by up to half this year compared with 2019.

Labour said that as the critical Christmas period approaches, billions of pounds of turnover is at stake, threatening business viability and jobs. Non-food retailers take a fifth of their turnover in the run-up to Christmas, at £39 billion twice as much as during January and February.

The party also said that businesses were receiving far less government financial support than they did during the first stage of the pandemic.

Shadow minister for business and consumers Lucy Powell accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of “sleight of hand” in reducing support for businesses.

She said: “The coronavirus crunch has wiped billions of pounds off company balance sheets and with the Chancellor’s sleight of hand on business grants, many firms are now facing a cash crisis that has his name all over it.

“The run-up to Christmas is an absolutely critical time of year for so many businesses on our high streets, which are facing a triple whammy of tumbling turnover, plummeting profits and crumbling confidence as a result of the government’s failure to tackle the coronavirus.

“Many companies are hanging on by their fingertips, if they are left to go bust by the government, we’ll see a bleak mid-winter for many, and an avalanche of job losses.”

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