Winners were set to be announced at the event at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London in January 2022. The next instalment will now be held in January 2023, three years after the last ceremony, which took place in 2020.
A statement by the NFRN said its priority was “safeguarding members, their families, sponsors, staff and guests” and suggested hosting the event was no longer in line with this objective.
NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa said: “This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, but we are confident it is right to ensure we continue to keep members, their families and sponsors safe.
“It is a great shame we will be unable to celebrate the successes of our members in January – particularly given the amazing lengths store owners went to over the past 18 months to serve their communities. However, we look forward to bringing the independent retailing community together for a great celebration in 2023.”
betterRetailing understands the decision follows several prominent NFRN figures catching Covid-19 following the trade group’s annual conference in October, resulting in others being ‘pinged’ despite compliance with all government requirements.
The decision to cancel the 2022 NFRN Awards was made following a meeting of the organisation’s National Executive Committee in late October.
Growing Covid-19 concerns in retail
The NFRN’s concern over rising cases matches the wider political climate.
Days before the NFRN made its announcement last week, Wales became the first country in the UK to reintroduce stricter Covid-19 measures.
These included requiring employers to have up-to-date risk assessments to minimise exposure to the coronavirus; all citizens aged 11 and over being mandated to wear face coverings in all indoor public settings except in hospitality venues; a requirement on shops to inform visitors that mask wearing is mandatory; and a return to working from home where possible.
NFRN member Mark Dudden of Albany Road Post Office in Cardiff told betterRetailing he would be complying with the law, but would not be enforcing mask wearing. He said: “We do have posters up around the store saying it is a legal requirements to wear one and will be encouraging customers to wear one if they can. However, most of the customers who are coming into our store do wear masks, so I don’t think we will have too much trouble.”
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