They are also calling on the Government to clarify within the next ten days what its plans are for the reopening of non-essential retail.

Retail Excellence says this is necessary to enable outlets to prepare for the crucial weeks in the lead up to Christmas.

“A delayed reopening means fewer shopping days and that means busier shopping days,” says Retail Excellence CEO, Duncan Graham.

“There is a real logic to making sure we reopen non-essential retail as quickly as possible so we can effectively manage consumer demand in our shops and towns.”

The organisation has set out three policy priorities for Government around the reopening of retail once Level 5 restrictions are lifted.

As well as certainty, the group wants a focus on safety and support.

It says retail has proven a safe environment for shoppers and claims this can be maintained in the run up to Christmas.

Retail Excellence is also seeking support from the Government and landlords on rent accrued while they have been closed, as well as additional state support for the promotion of the sector.

It claims the Government must meet its realistic and achievable demands if the industry is to recover next year.

“This lockdown has been catastrophic for the retail sector,” Mr Graham says.

“Our priority now is to look ahead to the end of this month and the earliest possible reopening of non-essential retail so that we can meet consumer demand and save our retail businesses.”

“These policy pillars can provide the confidence we need to ensure a speedy reopening of the sector.”