Trade association Scottish Bakers has called for clarity on the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions which are creating “near impossible” trading conditions for some bakers in Scotland.
It comes after the Scottish Government unveiled a four-step plan to bring the nation out of lockdown. As part of this, it said non-essential retail, hospitality, and services such as gyms and hairdressers would not reopen before 26 April.
But, Scottish Bakers pointed out, the government has not laid out a clear plan for lifting current takeaway restrictions which it claimed are ‘crippling’ many bakeries in the country whose primary function is the sale of on-the-go foods such as sandwiches. More details are anticipated in mid-March.
Currently, businesses providing takeaway food need to operate on a ‘non-entry’ basis meaning customers must be served at the door or through a window.
The trade association said this has proved difficult for some bakers which are predominantly focused on the sale of hot food or sandwiches as it has severely restricted footfall meaning they’ve had to weigh up their commitment to the community against the economic impacts of fewer customers. This, it said, had led to some bakeries shutting their doors at this time.
“It was great to hear from the First Minister that there is some light at the end of the tunnel but these take-away restrictions have further damaged revenue and, indeed, amongst our membership, we have seen many bakers closing for the duration of this restriction due to the near impossible trading conditions it has created,” said Scottish Bakers chief executive Alasdair Smith.
“We now need to get these bakers back open to serve their customers once again with freshly baked bread, savoury snacks, sweet treats and food to go.”
Bakery businesses in Scotland employ 12,000 people contributing revenues of around £1.3bn to the economy, Smith noted, making it the second largest food and drink contributor after beverages.
“Local high street bakers provide a vital lifeline in the communities they serve. Particularly in rural areas where, since March last year, local bakers have been providing home delivery and click and collect services supplying a range of basic items alongside freshly baked goods for the most needy and isolated. If these businesses cannot make ends meet by operating a ‘through the door’ service then communities will suffer,” Smith added.