Next Cuts Sick Pay for Unvaccinated Staff

High street retailer Next has followed in the footsteps of Ikea and Morrisons by slashing sick pay for unvaccinated staff who are forced to self-isolate after having contact with someone with Covid.
In a move deemed controversial by many, the clothes retailer has decided to only pay its unjabbed staff statutory sick pay while in isolation. Next has defended its decision by saying that it needs to balance "staff and shareholder needs" in light of the widespread staff absences affecting employers as a result of the new highly transmissable Omicron variant.
At present, unvaccinated people are still required to self isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone infected with Covid, according to government regulations. Fully vaccinated people, however, are exempt from this.
Next has said that any of its workers who test positive for covid, whether vaccinated or not, will still receive full sick pay.

Figures Suggest British Shoppers Stayed Away from the High Street on Boxing Day

According to new figures released by Springboard, the number of in-person shoppers on the British high street fell by 41% this Boxing Day when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The dramatic dip in footfall on what is usually one of the busiest dates in the retail calendar is thought to be a direct result of Omicron.  The new, highly contagious strain of the Coronavirus is likely to have dissuaded consumers from visiting shops in person.

Springboard's data revealed that footfall in high streets was 37.7% lower than in 2019, and had decreased 48.4% in shopping centres and 40.2% in retail parks.

“A major reason for the significantly lower footfall compared with 2019 will be due to consumers’ ongoing nervousness about the Covid infection rate." said Springboard insights director, Diane Wehrle

“This will have been compounded by the fact that a few multiple retailers opted not to open on Boxing Day which will have deterred some shoppers.

“In addition, Sunday generally has the lowest footfall on any day in the week so a comparison with 2019 when Boxing Day fell on a Thursday will always have meant that footfall would be lower than two years ago.

“Despite this, most multiple retailers still opened their doors to shoppers, and the mild weather should have meant that it was easy for shoppers to visit stores and destinations.”

CEO of Bira Recommends Retailers to Try Hybrid Working Model

In a bid to combat the risk of waning consumer confidence, Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre has encouraged retailers to adopt a hybrid business model.

Goodacre claimed retailers were facing the very real threat of declining consumer confidence due to the pandemic and emerging new variants.  By becoming a "hybrid retailer" and building a strong online presence, he argued that retailers could rise to the challenge of potential new restrictions in January and boost sales.

"The official retail sales figures for October and November were positive and I am sure that many retailers were looking forward to December with a high degree of optimism,” Goodacre said.

“Then Omicron was announced and it has completely ‘burst that bubble’ of Christmas cheer.  Bira has recognised the challenge faced by independents who want to add an extra sales channel to their business but are not sure how to do it or how to make it profitable.

“With uncertainty about January and potential closures, now is the time to start looking at options to still do business and engage with your local community – and wider opportunities.”

“The result of the last 20 months is the rise of the ‘hybrid retailer’ – a shop with good internet presence. We have also seen an increase in local shopping. Even if shops are not closed, the general message to the public is to be cautious and that will lead to more online shopping."


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