Where shops were open and sales booming, there was no case for a year’s relief from business rates

It’s bad enough that the big supermarkets, sporting their best sales figures in years, were given a pandemic freebie by Rishi Sunak in the form of a year’s relief from business rates. But the case of the discount retailer B&M, clinging to its £38m from the Treasury even as it pays a £250m special dividend to shareholders, is more extreme.

B&M in April found itself in a near-perfect competitive position. Since it sells food, it was classed as an essential retailer, and so could keep its 656 UK stores open. But, because its shelves are also stuffed with toys, games, furniture, stationery, rugs and so on, it also had the run of the inessential retailing pitch.

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