UK retail came to a standstill on Monday as businesses across the nation closed their doors to observe the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Although it was not mandatory for all stores to shut down, the prevailing sentiment among the public and the desire of staff to watch the event made it unlikely for many stores to remain open. Fashion retailers, beauty brands, independent stores, chains, and department stores all closed for the day, while some essential stores stayed operational.

In addition to the closure of physical stores, webstore deliveries were also put on pause. However, online shopping was still accessible to consumers. London Fashion Week, which coincided with the funeral, decided to postpone events scheduled for Monday to other days or the final day on Tuesday, which has now become busier than usual. Burberry even rescheduled their events for a week later.

While normal political activity had been disrupted in the UK since news of the Queen’s death broke almost two weeks ago, this week is expected to see a return to a frenzy of political affairs, particularly from Wednesday onwards. This is predicted to have a significant impact on the retail sector. Liz Truss, who assumed the role of Prime Minister on September 5, is anticipated to announce a mini budget on Friday. Truss had already revealed plans for a major cap on consumer energy bills, funded by borrowing. It is now believed that the Prime Minister will unveil a winter support scheme for businesses this week.

The soaring cost of energy bills has left many retailers and businesses uncertain about their future. While there is a cap on consumer energy bills, business bills are rising even faster due to the absence of such a cap. Numerous retailers have expressed frustration over the lack of information regarding the support they may receive. They hope to see long-lasting changes to the business rates that have negatively impacted retailers with physical stores in recent years.

However, the government and Members of Parliament (MPs) have a limited window of opportunity to discuss and approve support measures before the parliamentary session is shortened for the political party conference season. The recess, originally planned to begin this Thursday, was proposed to be shortened by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The aim is for MPs to return a week earlier than planned to address pressing issues.