Election result to give retailers a much-needed boost, but could be short-lived

Following the news that the Conservative Party has secured a majority in the 2019 UK general election;

Patrick O’Brien, UK Retail Research Director at GlobalData, offers his view on what this means for the retail sector:

“Whatever your politics, the result is at least decisive, and offers retailers some short-term relief after what has been a slow start to the Christmas shopping season so far. With two weekends left before Christmas, retailers may see some extra spend unlocked, now that the immediate path to Brexit appears to have cleared. Retailers will also be boosted by the strengthening pound, now at a three-year high against the dollar.

“Retailers may also enjoy a good start to 2020, as the confirmation of Brexit at the end of January brings further clarity at least, whichever side of the remain/leave divide you are on. Any boost may be short-lived though, as negotiations on a trade deal with the EU begin; we expect brinkmanship to resurface especially as the end-of-2020 deadline for negotiations gets closer.

“Retailers also need to put further pressure on the Conservative government to make good on its manifesto pledge to have a fundamental review of business rates. Such reviews have been promised before, but only resulted in tweaks which have done little to relieve the stress that retail chains are under. We will see if this government has the appetite for radical changes to the system, but with the implementation of Brexit ahead, and the difficulty of pushing any of the burden lifted from physical retailers to others (whether it be consumers, online retailers or other businesses), progress on the issue is likely to be slow.”

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