Riots that erupted throughout London and other parts of the UK are estimated to have cost up to £300 million in damage and lost revenue in the retail sector. Looters broke into hundreds of retail premises stretching from Tottenham to Clapham in what evolved into a coordinated and organised strategy by criminal gangs to target a number of retail outlets. Criminals targeted electrical stores, jewellers and fashion outlets spurred on by a woefully under resourced and inadequate response from the Metropolitan police.
A report from the Local Data Company (LDC) revealed that 48,404 shops, pubs and restaurants were affected by the riots. The report found that 28 town centres were affected, not to mention standalone supermarkets and retail parks.
Research from the British Retail Consortium found that among the 16 major firms that account for a quarter of UK retail sales, 899 outlets were attacked during the UK riots, affecting more than 11,000 workers and resulting in over 7,500 lost trading hours. JD Sports reported the loss of £700,000 worth of stock alone.
In the week that followed, shops and businesses throughout London closed early on the advice from the Police in fear of further violence and looting. The Metropolitan police deployed 16,000 officers throughout London under instructions to use greater force and even use plastic bullets if required. Violence and looting also spread to other parts of the country including Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that Parliament was to be recalled to debate the civil unrest in which a number of measures will be introduced to help support retail businesses over the next few months. The Prime minister said any business damaged during rioting can seek compensation under Riot Damages Act, even if uninsured, with the claim windows extended to 24 days. A £20m high street relief fund has been set up by the government to stop some of the shopkeepers whose stores were destroyed during the riots from going out of business.
The Association of British Insurers estimates the industry will pay out in excess of £200m as a result of the four nights of rioting and looting around the country. The £20m high street support scheme, said David Cameron, would help “get businesses trading again”. The pot, which is being jointly funded by the departments for Communities and Local Government, and Business, Innovation and Skills, will be distributed by councils who can use it to reduce business rates bills, finance building repairs and encourage customers back to the affected areas.