Friday, 20 March 2009

BRC budget submission 2009

Fashionista has just finished reading the British Retail Consortium's budget submission for 2009. As we all know, it has been a challenging time for retailers and the prospects for recovery in 2009 do not look good with many believing that it will be the toughest year in decades.

The BRC have therefore produced a document which has been sent to the Government setting out the measures which they believe need to be put in place to assist retailers to weather the current downturn and help put retail on the road to recovery.

The submission concentrates on preserving opportunities by avoiding the imposition of additional costs on retailing and promoting new opportunities by investing for the future to secure recovery. Fashionista has summarised some of the key points covered in the submission below:

The BRC asks the Government to address property cost burdens which is clearly a high priority in a property intensive sector. The submission proposes an immediate freeze on all new business rate burdens and a reinstatement of Empty Property Rate Relief. In addition, the Government is asked to ensure that new development is not deterred as a result of new and heavy burdens following the introduction of the new Community Infrastructure Levy.

Retailing has always been a major local employer with around 3 million people, or 1 in 9 of the working population, employed by the sector. The submission therefore focuses on measures which can be taken in this area to support businesses. One such suggestion is that this year's National Minimum Wage increases should be kept to no more than 1-1.5% to enable retailers to maintain, and where possible increase, job opportunities. The Government is also encouraged to drop its proposed National Insurance increases.

The temporary VAT reduction has cost retailers millions due to the short notice and timing. Further significant costs will result from the return to the 17.5% currently scheduled for 31 December 2009. BRC proposes that the reintroduction of the 17.5% VAT rate is postponed by at least one month so as to miss the important post-Christmas sales period.

Fashionista hopes that the Government takes some, if not all, of the proposals on board which will hopefully go some way to easing the pressure on fashion retailers over the coming year. Fashionista will be doing all she can to boost the retail market herself - as if she ever needed an excuse to do more shopping!