Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest guidance on COVID-19 and planning for the end of the transition period with the EU.
Non-essential vs essential retail
Under the new national “lockdown” plans for England, updated guidance has been published concerning the sale of essential and non-essential goods
- Non-essential retail must close but will be permitted to continue delivery and click-and-collect services (where goods are pre-ordered and collected without entering the premises)
- A business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food is not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.
- Where a business selling essential retail has another, separate business embedded within it that is required to close, the embedded business must close. For example, an electronics business operating a concession within a supermarket must close, as would a bookshop business inside a garden centre
- Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread. Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections. For example, a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close
NHS COVID-19 app
The NHS COVID-19 app is now compatible with Protect Scotland, StopCOVID NI, Jersey COVID Alert and Beat COVID Gibraltar. The app will now alert users if they have been in close contact with users of apps across the whole of the UK, Jersey and Gibraltar.
Defra is working with the NHS COVID-19 App team and Public Health England to ensure greater consistency in how contact tracing is being implemented.
Clinically extremely vulnerable
Updated advice has been published on shielding and protecting people in England who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are strongly advised to work from home. If people are unable to work from home, they are advised not to attend work during this period. Financial support is provided in the form of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit subject to eligibility criteria. The furlough scheme may also be accessible to these colleagues.
Unlike in the first lockdown, others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to follow this guidance and can continue to travel for work if necessary.
The government has announced that it will extend the furlough scheme until the end of March and will increase support for the self-employed.
Food surplus redistribution
During the second national lockdown, a number of resources and support are available to ensure that any food surplus is redistributed rather than ending up as waste. These include:
Trading and stockpiling
Following the announcement of a national lockdown, there continue to be reports of significantly increased sales particularly for household paper, tins and packaged goods, and personal care products. The supply chain remains resilient with no significant shortages. Demand for online delivery slots is also reported to be very strong.
Latest IGD research conducted 4-5 November has revealed that 45% of shoppers claimed to have stockpiled or bought extra recently. This has slipped back from last weekend when more than half of shoppers (55%), claimed to have stockpiled.
There are regional differences with more than half of shoppers in London (54%) and Scotland (53%) claiming to have already stockpiled or bought more than they usually would, compared to 37% in the North East.
Full results of our research will be published today on the IGD Economics website.
Defra has confirmed two unrelated outbreaks of Avian influenza in Kent and Cheshire. Detailed investigations are now in progress. Defra is monitoring any impact on the supply chain.
Travel corridor changes
The government has announced further changes to the list of “safer” travel destinations.
Denmark was removed from the exempt list from 4 a.m. on Friday 6 November. Germany and Sweden will be removed from the exempt list after 4 a.m. on Saturday 7 November.
These countries are now considered more dangerous, requiring travellers to isolate for two weeks
EU Exit negotiations
Some progress has been reported in talks between the UK and EU. However, a number of differences remain relating to the Level Playing Field, Governance and Fisheries.
IGD continues to urge members to prepare for “no-deal”. See our EU Exit Checklist. Register for the next IGD EU Exit Webinar update.
The government has published updated guidance about labelling of food products for sale in the UK and the EU from 1 January 2021, including requirements for marketing goods in Northern Ireland (NI). This includes the following requirements:
- Label food from NI as ‘UK(NI)’ or ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’ where EU law requires Member State
- Pre-packaged food or cases sold in NI must include a NI or EU Food Business Operator (FBO) address. If the FBO is not in NI or EU, include the address of the importer.
The UK government recognises that businesses will need time to adapt to these new labelling rules.
More economic news and analysis