Today is Cyber Monday, one of the busiest days for retailers in the UK, and early estimates suggest that consumers could spend up to £3billion on UK websites and shops.
Figures compiled by the Centre for Retail Research for VoucherCodes suggest that £1.5bn is expected to be spent online and £1.5bn in shops today, beating Black Fridays £1.1bn on websites and £1.4bn in stores.
With a general election around the corner, and despite tales of High Street woes regularly filling our news feeds, retail was not mentioned in the Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems manifestos.
There seems to be a feeling that the three main political parties not addressing retail in their manifestos indicates that they see that the solutions to the many problems in the sector must come from within.
There is no doubt that high-street retailers invested in bricks and mortar need to find unique ways to increase footfall through enhancing the shopper experience, but solutions from within the sector will also undoubtedly see landlords having to take a significant portion of the pain with increasing trends towards downward renegotiation of rents.
It seems unlikely that any of the main political parties will support policies that are focused solely on helping retailers, so the only hope for the high street from a policy perspective may be from broader town-centre regeneration strategy under any future government.
What would the retail sector like to see from the election winner?
There’s no doubt that most high-street retailers invested in bricks and mortar would have a cut to business rates at, or near, the top of their wish list, even if this might only provide short term relief. An overhaul to the current system of setting rates is likely to be high on the agenda for those on the high street.
It seems unlikely that we will see any government-led strategy around rent reduction, but support is gathering for the introduction of a sales tax imposed on online retailers, with many on the high street now openly in support of this.
Of course, this splits the sector, with many established retailers having a sole or dominant online presence, so it looks destined to remain on the wish list for the time being.
If you have a retail business and would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this Keynote, please contact Tim Deacon on the contact details below.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.