Lots of stores in major English cities, including many shoe and fashion stores, were looted or damaged in the last week by the worst burst of rioting that the country has endured in the past decades. As widely reported in the international press, the movement started in the Tottenham district of London around Aug. 6 and then spread to other parts of the capital and to other cities including Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
Total damages were last estimated at more than £200 million (€228.5m-$329.5m), part of which will be covered by insurance. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced a £20 million (€22.8m-$33.0m) aid program for affected retailers, who will have 42 days to file their claims. They will also have more time to pay VAT and other taxes to the government.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), praised the prime minister for listening to his pleas and for satisfying the majority of them. However, he did not exclude the risk that some otherwise successful retailers will be pushed into insolvency due to the recent events.
Retailers that were not hit by this sudden wave of popular violence saw customer traffic go down considerably, possibly benefiting some web stores. The resulting losses offset a relatively better month of July in which total retail sales went up by 2.5 percent as compared to year ago, according to the BRC. They were up by 0.6 percent on a same-store basis.
Clearance sales and good weather boosted demand at British clothing and footwear stores in July, the organization said, while stressing that conditions remain “very difficult.” Inflation and the rise in the VAT rate since last January boosted the numbers given by the BRC, indicating little or no growth in terms of volume. On the other hand, internet and mail-order retailers saw their sales increase by 9.6 percent in July, compared with one year ago.