Retail industry urges George Osborne: save the high street
'We're a force for good', British Retail Consortium tells Chancellor ahead of next month's Budget
THE RETAIL industry is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to take measures to rescue the British high street in his upcoming 2013 Budget. The British Retail Consortium (BRC), citing research prepared by forecasters Oxford Economics, said the cost of running high street stores has risen by 21 per cent since 2006 while sales in the same period have increased by just 12 per cent.
The BRC is asking Osborne to freeze business rates to help rebuild consumer confidence in his 20 March announcement, the International Business Times reports. The group has also called for Osborne to introduce a national insurance holiday for all companies taking on young unemployed people, and to encourage customer parking improvements on the high street.
"Retail is a major force for good. It's the UK's largest private sector jobs provider and has been a powerhouse for investment and growth, even during the relentlessly tough times of the last few years", BRC director general Helen Dickinson said. "The Chancellor has the opportunity to improve the business environment as a way of re-establishing and maximising retail's essential contribution to recovery."
The BRC's intervention comes after a painful post-Christmas period with HMV, Jessops and Republic all entering administration. According to figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics, retail sales in Britain fell by 0.6 per cent in January, with Larry Elliot of The Guardian concluding "consumers are skint".
Elliot wrote: "Real incomes, according to the ONS, are back to 2003 levels, and with petrol prices again rising sharply there is simply less money available for discretionary spending." ·