"It just feels completely unfair. I'm absolutely livid." Naomi Walker, who owns an independent fashion shop in Garstang, Lancashire, is not happy about recent coronavirus restrictions.Her boutique has had to close its doors in the vital run-up to Christmas while other larger retailers get to stay open.
"It's unethical," she says. "We [small retailers] are the backbone of communities, but our shops are closed." Her business, Bombshell Betty Boutique, is one of a group of 60 small fashion firms calling for the government to re-examine the restrictions.
On Thursday last week England went into a second lockdown. Strict curbs were brought in on which shops could stay open xo slot and which had to close. Retailers deemed "essential", such as supermarkets and garden centres, where allowed to stay open.
However, the group of independent fashion shops - called 'Boutiques in Business' - said on Wednesday that the problem was that these businesses were allowed to sell items the boutiques were not.
"Our landlords want our rent paid. Our suppliers want their invoices paid," said Ms Walker. "We can't sell a thing. In the last lockdown I didn't take a penny."November is our busiest trading month and we're hamstrung. I feel we are being slowly strangled to death."
She said that government grants and support such as the furlough scheme "don't touch the sides in terms of what we're missing out on".
As part of a protest against the restrictions, the group of boutiques will turn their mannequins around as they say that the government has turned its back on them.
'Boutiques in Business' was set up by fashion shop owner Amanda Leigh Slattery as a Facebook group in 2019, and has 60 members.
"Our biggest problem is that November is our cash month because everybody is buying for Christmas," she said. The group is calling for the government to "be fairer" with its definition of essential and non-essential items, "and to prevent items deemed non-essential being offered for sale regardless of the location".
"You can go to supermarkets and buy chinos, jeans, or a white shirt - none of that is essential," she said. Moreover, a boutique could not sell similar items.