Coronavirus Covid-19

Coronavirus Advice (part twelve) from NAJ

04 Mar 2021

covid roadmap out of lockdown uk NAJ

As part of the Government’s March budget announcement Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a new £65bn support package which includes an extension to the furlough scheme, continued business rates holiday and a new grant 'restart' scheme for retailers. The announcement follows the roadmap for easing lockdown set out by the Prime Minister last month.

Gary Wroe, NAJ Chair said,

While the announcements today are welcomed, there will be jewellers that continue to struggle and some retailers under very real threat of not reopening.

It is disappointing that more support isn’t available for non-essential retail with the main focus seemingly on hospitality and leisure. The Association will continue to lobby on our members behalf where it is appropriate to support businesses and jobs in the jewellery sector.

Financial support announced

'Protecting, creating and supporting jobs remains the highest priority' the Chancellor said, as the furlough scheme is extended until the end of September, albeit that employers will begin contributing 10% from July increasing to 20% in August and September.

In addition, support for the self-employed was announced that also runs up to and including September with a fourth, fifth and sixth SEISS grant. From next month, claims can be made for the fourth grant worth 80% of three months' average trading profits, up to £7,500 in total. However, the amount paid will depend on the amount of turnover lost. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a grant that is equivalent to 30% of average trading profits. Sole traders who can show they were trading in 2019-20 from their tax returns will now be eligible for the first time, and be able to claim the fourth and fifth grants.

Jewellers will be able to claim up to £6,000 in a new restart grant scheme, which is less than the figures for hospitality and leisure sectors (upwards of £18,000) but is payable per premises. In addition, a recovery loan scheme will allow businesses to apply for loans of £25,000 up to £10m until 31st December 2021. The government has said it will cover lenders of up to 80%.

An extension to the business rates suspension is also announced, with a 100% holiday until the end of June, before being discounted by two thirds for the rest of 2021.

Also relevant for NAJ Members is an increase in the contactless payment threshold which sees the maximum payment increase from £45 to £100, made possible by the UK’s new relationship with the European Union.


What's the long-term outlook?

Addressing speculation over tax rises, Mr Sunak confirmed corporation tax will rise to 25% from April 2023. Protection will be in place for businesses with profits of less than £50,000 who will maintain the current rate of 19%.

Looking ahead, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast the UK economy will grow by 4% this year and will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022 (7.3% rise next year), six months earlier than previously estimated. OBR forecast the subsequent three year period will reflect 1.7%, 1.6% and 1.7% growth.

It was also announced that for the next two years, businesses investing in new equipment can offset all of the cost (with an additional 30% off) in a bid to encourage more firms to invest in technology. £126m of funding is also being invested into a traineeship scheme, in which the government pay employers who give young people work placements. This news arrives alongside a 'Help to Grow’ Scheme in which thousands of small businesses will be offered free MBA-style management training.


What next for reopening?

Many jewellery retailers will be planning to attract the expected pent-up demand when lockdown begins to ease next month, and the NAJ's own independent jewellery retailer community, the JBN estimates that over 80% of the working population are still receiving all or the majority of their salary.

At a recent NAJ Live webinar for Independent Jewellery Retailers, JBN Facilitator Michael Donaldson said,

"JBN members are already working on life after Lockdown3.0 to ensure their customers are reminded of the great hands-on retail experience that awaits them in store." 

The session included ten take away points that independent retailers prioritised during lockdown as the group now turns to support each other with reopening insights.

More information on the JBN

Replay the Independent Jewellery Retailer NAJ Live

The NAJ will host a 'reopening retail' webinar on Thursday 25th March in which it will talk through recommended marketing activities jewellery businesses should be actioning to attract customers into store in April, as well as recap the legislative announcements and schemes available to businesses and individuals at this time. This may include Covid-19 testing and face coverings, for example as well as alerting members to possible operational issues such as annual leave planning.

Register for 'Reopening Retail' NAJ Live


be covid 19 safe awareness course

NAJ Resources for reopening

If retailers haven’t already signed the StoreSafe pledge, which includes updating staff and team members on Covid secure requirements this can be signed and communicated to customer databases as a level of assurance to show you are taking all the necessary and recommended actions as set out by your trade association.

Sign the StoreSafe pledge

Additionally, retailers can use the NAJ’s ‘present moment’ consumer marketing campaign, which this month features a toolkit for Mother’s Day and the Bridal and Anniversary season to inspire consumer interest as click and collect services increase and reopening returns.

Download The Present Moment Toolkit

The NAJ has recently published a free single module on jewellery, to support new people entering the sector but it can also be useful for staff returning from furlough. Indeed, the module represents a quarter of the JET Essentials Programme, which itself is a section of the popular Professional Jewellers’ Certificate, more commonly referred to as the JET 1.

Access the free jewellery module

Marie Garnett, Head of Education said,

Throughout Lockdown, many jewellers have continued to commit to JET programmes and with plenty of time before the conditional reopening date, it may be a sensible choice to explore JET programmes for staff returning from furlough to help them as part of a structured return to work.


How can jewellers maintain online?

With the increase in e-commerce activity, many retailers may be contemplating how the new normal will look, and how they can effectively continue to resource both online and in-store. There are a number of opportunities available, which include:


Kickstart scheme

Jewellers from all areas of the sector who would like to register an interest in the government’s Kickstart scheme can do so with the National Association of Jewellers.

The Kickstart Scheme was announced in September as part of the Chancellor's Plan for Jobs’ and provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds who are currently on Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The British Allied Trades Federation (BATF), the NAJ’s parent organisation, is an approved kickstart representative, meaning smaller SME’s who would not qualify directly can do so through the organisation.

Funding will cover for each job placement:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
  • employers receive up to £1500 funding per job placement. This is for setup costs and to support the young person to develop their employability skills.

Register an interest in the Kickstart scheme


marketing metrics

Digital Marketing Apprenticeship

For some jewellers, retraining existing staff or recruiting new staff may be an attractive business decision to grow online activity. This can be supported through a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship, delivered by a selected Education partner of the Association. Small and medium-sized businesses get 95% Government funding towards the cost of the apprenticeship, which makes this a low-cost option for getting highly valuable skills into the business.

Please contact NAJ’s Education team for more information.

Register interest in Digital Marketing Apprenticeship


Supporting Mental Health

Mental health has become a more prevalent subject in the UK in recent years, but there are still many people who live with conditions like depression and anxiety. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only served to worsen mental health for many.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are natural during lockdown, and financial stress has also increased for those who may have had their employment and subsequent income disrupted.

Fortunately, there are many free mental health support resources that are available to those who may be struggling. Seeking out the proper help can make all the difference when it comes to managing your mental health. With that in mind, take the time to learn about how the mental health resources in this article may be able to assist you.

View all helplines

The Jewellery sector and COVID-19

Source: The National Association of Jewellers