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The Advertising Association has weighed into prime minister Boris Johnson's contentious decision to call a second national lockdown in England by highlighting the unfortunate overlap with the peak holiday spending period, which risks economic carnage without mitigating measures.

What has the Prime Minister said?

  • Over the weekend Johnson announced a second national lockdown which will come into force in England from 5 November and extend for a minimum of four weeks.

  • Under the new lockdown, people must remain at home unless they have a specific reason to be outdoors such as education, essential shopping or exercise.

  • All non-essential retail will shutter but click and collect services will remain active. Pubs, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools must also close - although takeaway and delivery services may still be offered.

How has the Ad Association responded?

  • Citing the grave economic impact of the measures, Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, said: “The surprise news of the lockdown U-turn comes at the most critical point in the biggest quarter of the year for advertisers, agencies, media owners and tech companies and at a time when we had already downgraded our forecasts for Q4 2020 and 2021."

  • Demanding an exit strategy Woodford added: "This latest development will have an adverse impact on the vital Christmas trading period and our industry must rapidly adapt and flex once again to protect businesses, jobs and the wider economy. The sooner the lockdown can be reasonably lifted, the better and, in the meantime, business need more clarity in order to plan.

  • “We urge the government to set out the clearest possible direction of travel over the coming months in order for jobs to be protected and for the economy to function as best it can whilst limits are placed on it due to the public health challenges we all face."

  • To head off the worst economic damage Woodford recommends the introduction of an advertising tax credit and a rapid trade deal with the EU to provide some stability.

  • Woodford concludes: "To support this planning, we need government to rapidly invest in the professional skills needed across our industry, to back our industry’s ability to power economic growth through an advertising tax credit, and to ensure we have a trade deal with the EU in the short time that remains in the Brexit negotiations. We also need the government to recognise that any further interventions on our industry, such as the consultation on HFSS advertising, must be based purely on evidence and avoid any wanton economic damage.”