Passersby peer into a looted shop broken into during riots in Hackney in London
Passersby peer into a looted shop broken into during riots in Hackney in London. Reuters

Although it is too early to assess how much damage the riots in England will impart on British businesses, a local trade association warns the costs will be “huge.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) noted that not only will retail businesses suffer lost revenue over looting, theft and forced closures, but the country’s overall business reputation could also be hurt.

BRC stated that retail shops of every size and type have lost business to the rioters.

"There are huge costs being incurred and employment lost because shops are closing down across the capital early. Some shops won't be opening tomorrow," the BRC’s Director General Stephen Robertson told BBC.

"The problem is that here we are, we're on the verge of the Olympics when we're hoping to [send] a great message to the world about what a great capital this is to come to. We mustn't underestimate the fact that the pictures on our television screens were beamed to the world last night."

Robertson also said in a statement: "I deplore the violence and property damage inflicted by these criminal actions. I have the greatest sympathy for those who've lost businesses, staff whose jobs are now in jeopardy and customers now without local services. There may be genuine economic or community relations grievances in these areas but they will not be helped by torching shops.”

Robertson added: "Retail is at the heart of thriving communities. Clearly, with high streets under pressure anyway, at least some of the businesses destroyed will not be able to re-establish themselves, causing long-term damage. And, at a time when some of London's most deprived areas are looking forward to a substantial spending boost from visitors to next year's Olympics, this sends an appalling message to would-be tourists around the world."

The giant UK retailer Tesco said it had closed or cut the hours of about 157 stores in London, Liverpool and Bristol overnight as a precaution, but that they should be re-opened on Tuesday.

The supermarket added that 26 of its stores had "suffered varying degrees of damage.”

Sainsbury's, a grocery chain, also said that it closed a number of its stores early on Monday and that 16 stores had suffered "serious incidents".

"All of these stores have now reopened, except three of our convenience stores, which remain closed and will reopen as soon as possible," a Sainsbury spokesperson told BBC.
In addition, some banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, have closed branches in London where rioting was at its heaviest.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also warned that the damage from the rioting could be long-term and far-reaching.

Similarly, the director general of the BBC David Frost lamented: "The violence that we've seen over the last three nights - it's not only against individuals but it's destroying the very fabric of society, not just for now but for years to come and that's why the government has to get a grip of this.”

Frost further said: "We're looking for very clear leadership from the prime minister to say that this wanton vandalism is going to be clamped down on as of today and we will not see any further moves or action as we've seen over recent days."