Posted by Bharat Nahar, Partner
UK retailers reveal the biggest threats to their future – is it time for an internet tax?
Business rates in many high street stores now exceed the rents retail occupiers pay and have become the single biggest challenge facing the high street, according to a survey of some of the UK’s largest and highest profile retail brands including John Lewis, Starbucks, Smyths Toys, Monsoon Accessorize, and Scribbler.
The survey of 50 retail business decision-makers was conducted by law firm Royds Withy King, and found that 61% said increasing rates are the single biggest challenge to the high street, followed by reduced footfall (19%), pressure to discount (11%) and reduced consumer confidence (8%).
Bharat Nahar, Partner and Head of Retail at Royds Withy King, said: “Business rates continue to batter the high street and it is clear that reform of our outdated business rates regime can’t come soon enough. Retailers are working hard to improve the customer experience, however the government need to do their bit to help the high street – including looking at less obvious answers.”
Is it time for an internet tax?
This view is supported by the results of Royds Withy King’s survey, which found that 42% of retailers backed calls for a new sales tax on internet giants to level the playing field between online and bricks and mortar.
The survey also revealed that 64% retailers believe experiential retail will give them an edge, followed by environmental reputation (19%) and in-store technology (17%).
Television’s retail guru Kate Hardcastle MBE, said: “I’m pleased to see that experiential retail has been recognised as a winning formula for the future of the high street. Introducing experience into the retail environment globally, has been a significant part of my career, as I understand that the customer doesn’t “need” to shop – they have to “want” to shop. Positioning your retail store as a place to enjoy and visit again creates a brilliant way to build relationships that last with the customer.”
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