Appeal to ministers

Lonsdale urges ‘coherent approach’ to revive retail

David LonsdaleRetailers are continuing to grapple with a hotchpotch of government-imposed cost pressures and need some firm action to ensure their survival, it has been claimed.

On top of existing costs such as business rates and the new national living wage, bigger employers will have to pay for the Apprenticeship Levy from next year.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said there was a need for government at every level to work more effectively with the retail industry to help it keep down the cost of living for consumers and to help it thrive and prosper.

“A more coherent approach towards policy making in the year ahead is certainly required. This will become all the more important with Scotland’s economic performance now determining to a significant extent the levels of devolved public sector revenue,” he said.

In a new year message, Mr Lonsdale said this will become more important, “especially with half of VAT receipts soon to be assigned to the Holyrood Parliament.”

He said the depreciation of sterling since the Brexit vote will challenge the ability of retailers and their supply chains to absorb higher import costs.

“The coming year will hopefully bring less opacity over the implications of Brexit and what it might mean for tariffs on the cost of imported goods, especially food.”

2017 will also see the culmination of the Barclay Review of Scotland’s £2.6 billion system of business rates.

“There are few more pressing issues for the industry than the prohibitive cost of business rates, which has moved in the eyes of many retailers from irritating to debilitating in recent years,” he said.

“We must make the most of this Review and recast business rates for the decade ahead and substantially lower the tax burden.

“This would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new and refurbished shop premises, create jobs and help revive our high streets and town centres.”

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