Pre-Budget comment – Richard Roberts, head of retail at law firm Brabners

26th October 2021, 10:45 am

Richard Roberts, head of retail at law firm Brabners, said:

“It’s hugely disappointing that another Budget is likely to go by without a dramatic overhaul of the business rates system, even if the ‘Amazon Tax’ has been mooted to land soon. High streets are a critical component of the levelling up agenda and, while transport connectivity will be a major focus in today’s announcements, under pressure retailers are ultimately being neglected as soaring shipping costs, staff shortages and growing supply chain challenges continue to hamper trading.

“While a phased reintroduction of business rates is currently in place, it needs to be staggered further. As it stands, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are paying a third of rates until 31st March 2022, after the 100% holiday ended in summer. But without further tapering or additional support, businesses will face a cliff edge of repayments in the Spring, to coincide with the end of retailers’ toughest trading period – when the festive trading rush has ended but the Christmas bills roll in.

“The Chancellor must put in place a fairer system of taxation to enable both physical and online retailers to survive and thrive. Despite the surge in demand for virtual retail, ecommerce sales are still less than 30% of the retail market. Bricks and mortar stores continue to play a central role in our economy, and are in need of a fair chance to succeed.”

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