Friday, 5 January 2018

A bleak outlook for retailers?

As the new year begins, it is time for many businesses to take stock of where they are. Making plans for 2018, and looking ahead is an essential part of running a business. This can be a time for optimism, or to look at what needs to be done. As we look to the year, the Federation of Small Businesses reports that many retailers are looking to 2018 with a very negative outlook. The report suggests that small retailers see the year as one of –

·         Falling profits

·         Higher costs

·         Scaling back

·         And possibly even shutting down

It doesn’t make pretty reading.

What does this mean?

Well, one of the main things that it means is that the strategy from the government, particularly towards business rates, isn’t producing the kind of results that are needed. Large retailers will be reporting their seasonal figures next week, with the Christmas sales a great indication of the health of the retail sector. But, without the smaller independent retailers, the high streets of the UK will lose their vibrancy.

It isn’t a route that any of us want to follow. Being a retailer is tough. I can’t imagine many kids as they reach the age of 18 start to talk to their careers adviser about opening their own shop. It just doesn’t have that appeal, unless it is a niche. But we have to nurture this. What keeps people with these niche interests from just setting up online instead?

Solutions are out there

We can’t really do a great deal about sentiment in the very short term. We may lose a slew of independent retailers on the back of how they feel. But the medium and long term plans for the sector should be to generate an interest in being in a physical shop. To make this work, the government needs a change in attitude towards small business as a whole and retailers in particular.

Business rates have been a matter for discussion for some time now. But this is just one of a series of financial burdens on the small business. It adds up and frightens people from taking on staff or even starting a business at all.

If you are a small retailer, then I would love to hear from you. Are you one of the retailers that are concerned about the rising costs of running a business? Are you considering packing it all in? Let me know in the comments below.

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