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The return of retail requires the safe restarting of operations, warns Logistics UK

As early-morning queues began to snake outside of shops, salons and pubs last week (12 April 2021), it was clear that the British high street is still alive and kicking.

The length of queues to enter shops, gyms and hairdressers was an encouraging indication of the strong demand for businesses that had been compelled to shut their premises more than three months previously as England entered its third national lockdown on 5 January 2021. Many businesses, whose premises were located in higher tiers, had been forced to shut months earlier than this, missing out on the all-important trading season in the run up to Christmas.


Much as the logistics sector is seen as a reliable indicator of the strength of the wider UK economy, the John Lewis Partnership, a long-standing Logistics UK member, is widely regarded as a bellwether for the health of the UK retail sector.

On the morning of Monday 12 April, queues formed outside John Lewis shops as customers embraced much-needed, newly-reopened services – some of which have been closed for more than a year – from using changing rooms to children’s shoe fittings.

“It was fantastic to welcome customers back into our shops again,” said Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis, “and to see so many people excited to be out and about again. Our expert Partners have been on hand to deliver much longed-for services and are busy giving customers the inspiration they need for life after lockdown.”

The company has not proven immune to the economic impact of the pandemic, however, and recently announced that it was going to permanently close eight of its stores across the UK.


Behind-the-scenes, the logistics operation to ensure that retailers and hospitality businesses were fully stocked had begun weeks earlier, and for many businesses this required putting vehicles that had stood idle for months back into service

“During the initial lockdown in spring 2020, some businesses servicing the non-essential retail and hospitality sectors essentially mothballed their transport operations as depots were shut down and chains put across the gates,” said James Firth, Head of Road Freight Regulation Policy, Logistics UK.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) issued temporary guidance to support operators so that essential services could continue. The guidance also offers crucial advice on how to restart operations after fleets have stood idle for weeks or months because of lockdown restrictions.

Covering a variety of points, from pausing PMI (Preventative Maintenance Inspections) schedules to pre-use inspections, the advice also contains a useful list of frequently asked questions.

Firth continued: “We are delighted that our members in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have been able to restart their operations. For those members still in the process of putting vehicles that have been idle back into service, Logistics UK strongly urges them to consult the temporary guidance issued by the Senior Traffic Commissioner. This will ensure that they can restart their transport operations safely, legally and compliantly.”


Published On: 22/04/2021 17:00:21


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