NON-ESSENTIAL shops have been left devastated by the news they will have to close for the third time in nine months.

Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday plunged the country into a third lockdown, meaning the majority of businesses on the high street have had to close once more.

It has given retailers just a month to recover from the second lockdown in November.

Paul Murray, the chairman of the Prudhoe Traders Association, believed the sector had seen it coming.

He said: "There was a lot of speculation. We fully expected to be in lockdown through January, but I don't think anyone expected it to be for so long - I've heard it may last until the end of March.

"Retailers had a very very small flurry of recovery in December and then it's straight back into lockdown.

"We're now scratching around looking for financial support - which is available."

The treasury announced that around 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000, costing the Treasury £4.6 billion.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced a further £594 million for local authorities and devolved administrations to support businesses not eligible for the grants.

Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate resources at Northumberland County Council, said: “We know that this new period of Covid-19 restrictions is a further devastating blow for business owners.

"I would reassure them that we will continue to do everything we can to provide support, including through these new one-off grant payments.

“We have already paid out over £90million in total to support businesses. I urge business owners to ensure that they continue to apply for all of the funding that is available to them.

"We must all do everything that we can to prevent the spread of this new strain of the coronavirus, whilst the vaccine is being rolled out. I urge everyone to follow all of the guidance.”

Paul added: "We're just trying to keep alive. I think what's important is we need clarity from the Government - is it likely to end in March?

"We recognise that they have to do something and get on top of this virus, and it does seem like the only solution is to lockdown.The vaccine is out there and we seem to be cracking through that.

"We're all trying to minimise our costs and batten down the hatches.