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Chamber appeals to Govt on June rent discounts, says business in key sectors down by up to 60%

Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce said the majority of businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are trading at between 30% to 60% below 2019 levels as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to feedback from its members.

The Chamber revealed the stark finding as it expressed disappointment that the Gibraltar Government had not responded to its request to extend the discount scheme on commercial rents or the import duty waiver until the end of June.

In mid-March, the Chamber raised the issue of extending the BEAT measures for the whole of the second quarter with the Government.

“This was because it was clear that many local businesses were suffering from a lack of customers and particularly tourists,” the Chamber said.

“With few flights and empty hotels, local businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors had very thin trading levels during the first quarter compared to the same period of 2019.”

“This was not expected to change much over the second quarter.”

The Chamber wrote and subsequently met with the Government to ask for an extension of support until trading conditions improved which is expected in the summer.

By the end of the first week of April, the Government had agreed to extend the measures for the second quarter but only agreed to discount commercial rents until the end of April and subsequently until the end of May.

In the ensuing period, the Chamber said it had been in contact with many of its members in the affected sectors to monitor trading levels.

“Whilst one or two businesses have seen some improvement in business, the majority are still trading at between 30-60 per cent below their 2019 levels,” the Chamber said.

“For this reason the Chamber wrote to the Government once again asking it to extend the rental discount scheme and the waiver on import duty for registered traders until the end of June.”

“The Chamber has received no response from the Government to date and our members, along with many local businesses, which have endured the hardship of successive lockdowns now face the prospect of dealing with full overheads but little revenue and an uncertain future.”

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