The snap General Election took everyone by surprise, not least High Street retailers.
Whilst a strong recovery was noticed on the Britain’s High Street following, the Brexit vote back in June 2016, the first three months of 2017 have seen sales fall by 1.4%, says the ONS. However, April saw a splurge online and on the High Street with sales increase of 2.3%.
The main worry for retailers seems to be Business rates, the European single market and immigration.
Continued access to the single market is obviously essential for retailers and other businesses alike. Business Rates probably tops that as businesses such as Waterstones, Boux Avenue, Carpet Right and Debenhams all call for rates reform.
The BRC took the step to write to Phillip Hammond and try and persuade him that without ‘fundamental reform’ businesses willl see a doubling of their bills.
The British Chamber of Commerce also waded in with their concerns adding that 1 in small firms rate it as their biggest concerns
Adam Marshall, director-general of the BCC, said:”…hammering firms with sky-high costs before they turn over a single pound. This undermines business investment, which in 2016, fell for the first time in seven years.”
For a variety of different reasons, immigration is also weighing heavily on the minds of retailers.
Having access to a skilled workforce is critical for all business and in some sectors that will include immigrants, without it their businesses will cease to trade.
By contrast other businesses consider this free-movement of people a threat to their trading.
A word about uncertainty
Brexit and the General Election bring with them a fair amount of uncertainty and with the Brexit negotiations taking a least 2 years – I think it’s fair to say we shall have lots of uncertainty still to come.
When the British public are uncertain about their future, the first thing they do is stop spending.