What should bike shops choosing to close do next?

Following on from the guidance on how IBDs can remain opportunistic during COVID-19, the ACT has also collated the support available for the businesses choosing to close…

On the 23rd of March, the prime minister took the unprecedented yet necessary step of enforcing restrictions upon individual freedoms to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This included social distancing guidance for a day-to-day basis as well as the closure of “non-essential” businesses and venues. Included on the list of notable exceptions were bicycle shops, as they continue to remain open to serve the public’s transport needs.

When these measures were initially taken, the prime minister stated that measures would be in place for three weeks and then reviewed. According to this article published on the 8th April, ‘the review into the UK’s coronavirus restrictions planned for next Monday will now take place at a later date’. Despite this deferment, the review date is inevitably drawing closer and bicycle shops will once again be uncertain as to whether they will still remain able to open after the current situation has been reviewed.

For bicycle shops that have chosen to remain open during these challenging times, the ACT has published a guidance document to help with continuing with business and remaining safe at the same time. This guidance is just one part of the COVID-19 resources the ACT has been publishing on a regular basis.

However, many bicycle shops have already chosen to take the route of closing their shop and/or working remotely where possible.

This is a summary of information for bicycle shops that are considering closure/have already closed due to COVID-19.

Will bicycle shops remain open after the Government review?
The ACT has been liaising regularly with the Bicycle Association to form a unified stance to keep cycling going. Shops need to remain open as a vital service for essential workers and bikes are kept on the road to provide necessary transport and health/exercise options. It is crucial, however, that any bike shops remaining open are following Government guidelines and are operating responsibly in the interests of customers and their staff.

It is difficult to predict the extremity of the next measures the Government will choose to enforce. There are several options that they could take that could affect the cycling industry, several of which have been listed below:

a) No change for cycling or bike shops, restrictions remain as now
b) Cycling rules get more restrictive, potentially introducing a time/distance limit for exercise rides
c) Other non-cycling rules get more restrictive, such as limiting car use or closing public transport – this might see an uplift in cycling, especially as a method of transport
d) Cycle retailer rules get more restrictive, such as bicycles being limited to providing only services or only seeing customers by appointment.
e) New restrictions come in for “non-essential” factories, warehouses and call centres which could potentially force brands and distributions to close. This would obviously seriously limit the ability of shops to operate. However, the Government seems highly likely to recognise that for retailers deemed “essential”, the supply chains must also remain open if they are to keep functioning, and together with the Bicycle Association we’d be lobbying for this.

If changes are introduced are you prepared?

What grants am I entitled to?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Employers are not able to make a claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (“furlough”) due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Bicycle shops are eligible to make this claim, although you must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28th February 2020 and have a UK bank account.

You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme.

Find out more about how to begin your claim on the Government website here.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme
As well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme is also available to bicycle shops.

This provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

If you are eligible for this grant your local authority will write to you. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Small Business Grant Scheme
The Government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If you are eligible for this grant your local authority will write to you. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

What loans can I get?
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years.

The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Check to see if your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

How can I keep my business going without being physically open?
While your shop is shut you may be finding yourself with a little extra time on your hands. Take this opportunity to tailor your business to the millions of customers that are already shopping online, and the millions more that will be joining them during this isolation period. Appeal to this audience by building a robust online brand using social media platforms and your own website.

The way in which consumers are shopping will be forced to alter during these times; it is critical to evaluate your business and identify ways in which you can evolve alongside current shopping trends. Identifying your customers’ wants and needs and adapting to cater towards these is the first step in surviving and thriving throughout this crisis, particularly as we draw closer to the Easter period.

Let customers know you are still trading

The BA and ACT have been working together to make a tool where key workers and others can quickly find open bike shops. To do this, they need to know ASAP if your bike shop remains open, and on what basis. To add your details, please go to openbikeshops.uk/trade.

Your opening information will then be available nationally via openbikeshops.uk so that customers can direct any enquiries straight to you.

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