British Retail CEOs Back Chancellor's 'Shopper's Budget'
Several British retail CEOs have confirmed their backing of UK chancellor Phillip Hammond to deliver a ‘shopper’s budget’, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Retailers including B&Q, Holland and Barrett and Carpetright are backing the chancellor’s intention to relieve businesses of rate burdens in the upcoming UK Budget on Wednesday.
According to the BRC, UK retailers face a 4% increase in business rates, equating to as much as a £270 million leap in their bill next spring, if no preventative action is taken in the Budget.
This could have implications for investment plans, particularly for operators in less economically viable locations. Almost one in ten retail premises is vacant and ratepayers as a whole face a £1.2 billion leap in their rates bills from April, said the BRC.
Last month, the BRC submitted a recommendation to the chancellor to freeze the business rates multiplier in 2018 and accelerate the switch from RPI to CPI indexation thereafter.
UK business rates, higher than anywhere in the OECD nations, are already a significant factor in discouraging local investment, according to the BRC.
“There are few better yardsticks for Wednesday’s budget than the daily realities of local communities, shops and jobs,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “As a priority, the retail industry wants to see decisive action to enable British businesses to continue to invest in the needs of their customers and communities by stemming the near-4% increase in business rates planned for April 2018. This would be a positive first step towards a more financially sustainable and reformed rates system over the years ahead.”
The Office for National Statistics recently revealed low UK wage growth to be 2.2% in the three months up to September. This would lead to fiercer competition among retailers in the Christmas season, said the BRC.
Commenting on the forthcoming Budget, Peter Aldis, Chief Executive Officer of Holland and Barrett, said, "Retailers are grappling with profound changes in shopping habits, squeezed consumers and relentless rises in costs.
"Action in the chancellor’s budget to stop the inexorable cost rises and keep down the burden of business rates would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new and refurbished shop premises, create jobs and help revive high streets and town centres.”
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.