Monday saw the reopening of non-essential aisles in supermarkets in Wales, having been closed off since the country went into its third lockdown on December 19th.
Other shops won’t be able to open until three weeks later, on 12 April.
In the three week firebreak lockdown, the First Minister stopped supermarkets selling non-essential items to protect small businesses, and yet now he’s giving them the upper hand.
This is a further blow for these businesses, particularly given that last month Mark Drakeford gave a clear indication that shops would be given the green light to resume trading at the previous review on March 12th - although he now claims he did no such thing!
The past 12 months have been truly devastating for businesses throughout the UK, but worryingly a report published last week shows that Wales’ shopping centres have been the hardest hit in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data collected by the Local Data Company makes for extremely grim reading and also highlights the importance of firm action needing to be taken to support our shopping centres.
Businesses’ concerns over their future are legitimate and concerning, and, if they are to have any chance of surviving the past 12 months, they need a Welsh Government that is on their side.
It is going to take considerable time for many of them to recover, and they are going to need ongoing support in the months ahead from whichever Political Party is elected to lead Wales in the forthcoming May 6th Senedd Elections,
Welsh Conservatives have proposed a Covid Bounce Back Package for Welsh workers and businesses that would include measures such as an extension to the business rates holiday, bringing back the best of the Welsh Development Agency and a commitment to no new taxes in the next Senedd term.
Such a package would undoubtedly help, but to truly get back on their feet, businesses will also be depending on the support of all of us, their customers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the rising trend in online shopping, and whilst this is great news for all the small businesses that operate virtually, we must remember our town centre businesses are going to need our custom more than ever going forward.
Even during the best of times, with Wales being the most expensive place in Great Britain to pay business rates, it can be tough for them, but they have never before been faced with the challenges 2020/21 has thrown at them.
Many businesses in North Wales are literally on their knees, and there are many jobs hanging by a thread, it is therefore vital that we all play our part in helping them to bounce back.
Small businesses are the back bone of the Welsh economy and we can’t afford to see any of them close for good.
So, when these retailers are finally allowed to reopen on April 12th , I urge you all to get out there and give them your support.