Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons have collectively announced that they will be repaying over £1 billion in business rates relief. This decision comes after facing significant pressure for accepting government support during the lockdowns while other retailers were forced to close their doors.

Leading the way, Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, stated that it will be repaying the £585 million it received in rates relief. The company acknowledged the importance of the government’s financial and policy support, emphasizing that the decision to provide relief to all retailers was crucial in creating immediate confidence during a time of uncertainty. Tesco used the funds received to invest in their employees, support customers, and maintain relationships with suppliers.

In response to criticism surrounding the acceptance of rates relief, Tesco made it clear that every penny received was utilized for the company’s response to the pandemic. In fact, the estimated cost of COVID-19 for Tesco exceeded the rates relief received, totaling around £725 million. Despite facing additional financial burdens, Tesco faced scrutiny due to its ability to pay shareholders a dividend while other businesses were struggling or had to shut down entirely.

Following Tesco’s decision, competitors Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, both of which also sell fashion and beauty products, announced that they will also be repaying rates relief. Together, they will be returning £714 million. This collective action by the major supermarket chains showcases their commitment to acting in the best interest of their customers, employees, and stakeholders.

The repayment of business rates relief by these supermarket giants sends a strong message to the retail industry as a whole. It underlines the responsibility businesses have to support the economy and address the inequalities present in the sector. Moreover, this decision may put pressure on other companies that have accepted rates relief but have not faced the same level of scrutiny as the supermarkets.

In conclusion, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons have chosen to repay over £1 billion in business rates relief. While acknowledging the importance of the support they received, these supermarket giants have recognized their responsibility and taken necessary action to address the criticism surrounding their acceptance of government aid. This move sets a precedent for the retail industry and encourages other businesses to evaluate their own practices during these challenging times.

Useful links:
BBC – Major supermarkets to repay £1.7bn of business rates relief
The Guardian – Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to repay £714m of Covid relief grants