Retail - the road to recovery - Business Works
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Retail - the road to recovery

retail - the route to recovery C onsumer spending is now in recession, tax increases are due to put a greater squeeze on household budgets and retail employment is now falling.

"With consumer spending and retail job numbers dropping, rebuilding the confidence of customers to spend and retailers to return to investing and creating jobs has to be the Chancellorís priority as he prepares his Autumn Statement," says Stephen Robertson, the British Retail Consortium's Director General.

"He must hold back the costs he is responsible for. Freezing Council Tax offers welcome relief to hard-pressed households. The Chancellor should go further and help businesses and consumers by freezing fuel duty rates."

"Our latest figures show retail job creation cannot be taken for granted. If employment is to grow. It is affordability and not precedent that should govern property and employment costs. And, eighteen months from the election, it needs to be accompanied by urgent delivery on pulling down regulatory barriers that are holding back growth."

Retailers and customers need action on:

Business Rates and fuel costs

Under current convention, Aprilís Business Rates increase is determined by the previous Septemberís Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation figure. September 2011ís RPI was a 20 year record high at 5.6%.

A massive 5.6% Business Rates increase next April would come on top of a 4.6% increase this year.

Septemberís RPI is also due to dictate an increase in fuel duty next August. Added to the 3.02p per litre increase already due on 1 January 2012, that would mean duty increases next year totaling between 7p and 8p.

To support businesses and customers, both of these need a radical rethink. The Chancellor has the freedom to implement a significantly lower Business Rates increase. He should do that. And both next yearís fuel duty rises should be scrapped entirely.

Removing barriers to job creation

If the retail sector is to become a net creator of jobs again, the absolute upper tolerance limit for next yearís National Minimum Wage increase is 2.1%. For the longer-term, weíre pleased the Government has asked the Low Pay Commission to consider how to produce a system that delivers the clarity and predictability that is crucial to business planning.

Stagnating growth requires a bolder approach to reducing regulation. There should be a moratorium on new employment regulation until growth is firmly re-established.

Improving access to markets

Because the UK is Europeís leader in online retailing Ė the proportion of UK retailing that takes place online is almost twice the EU average - fully opening EU markets to the UKís online retailers has the potential to drive growth. The UK Government must push the European Commission to deliver its promised single digital market.



For more information, please visit: www.brc.org.uk




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