RETAILERS have warned ministers they have just two weeks left to decide if shops can reopen in December – or risk Christmas chaos.
All non-essential shops, including tech, toys and clothes stores, in England are currently closed due to the second coronavirus lockdown.
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Tough restrictions are expected to end on December 2 but there is already some speculation it could be extended.
But retail bosses have warned the government they must make a decision soon about reopening the high street next month or they will struggle to prepare for the Christmas rush.
Insiders warned The Mail on Sunday that many brands won't be able to cope with the influx of online shoppers if physical stores aren't able to reopen in time.
Deliveries could be delayed for weeks, potentially leaving families without gifts on Christmas day.
Can I return a Christmas order that arrives late?
IT can be really frustrating if you order a Christmas present and it doesn’t arrive on time.
If you want to return your gift, for example, because you had to buy something else, we explain your rights.
For presents ordered by the store's last delivery date – the one it advertises online – you will be entitled to your money back if you no longer want the item.
You'll need to have proof of when you placed your order, such as an email confirmation.
The retailer will also expect you to return the item. According to Resolver, the store you purchased the product from will usually be responsible for covering return costs, but this does depend on its terms and conditions, so read carefully.
If you want to keep the gift, you may be able to claim back some cash from the delivery costs. Contact the retailer to see what it can offer you.
If you paid extra for specific-day delivery, and it arrived after this date, the retailer should off you money back on the delivery cost.
Or at the very least, you'll get the difference in price between its standard delivery and premium delivery.
John Lewis has today begged ministers to provide "clarity as soon as possible" to give giant retailers enough time to "swing into gear".
The department store's boss Andrew Murphy said a decision will impact whether the chain recruits any temporary store staff for the festive season or redeploy 400,000 product lines to online warehouses.
One tradebody boss added that keeping stores closed would have "unthinkable" consequences for retailers as the delivery networks, even if click and collect was an option.
Despite September warnings for shoppers to buy Christmas presents early this year, many stores are already making backup plans to cope with the pent-up demand lockdown will create.
Brands aren't necessarily calling for shops to be reopened but a decision would help them plan for the busiest spending spree of the year.
The John Lewis Partnership boss also wants Sunday trading laws to be relaxed in the run-up to Christmas to make up for lost time and earnings caused by lockdown.
Mr Murphy said a four-hour extension will allow Waitrose to serve 200,000 more customers.
There are fears that a spike in hospital Covid-19 cases would discourage the Prime Minister from reopening shops until the New Year.
Lockdown has already cost the high street some big names – Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse are among those to shut their doors.
Even after restrictions were eased over the summer, two thirds of businesses saw a drop in footfall compared to before the pandemic.
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