The recent Budget is likely to both help and hinder retailers in their battle for survival over the coming months as extended hours during Olympic season conflict with rising transport costs, according to retail experts at CTS Retail.
The Chancellor has provided some much welcomed support for the retail sector in with the relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws for 8 weeks surrounding the Olympics which will help retailers to capitalise on the expected influx of tourists.
Increases in child benefit and personal tax thresholds have been welcomed as a positive step towards improving the consumer purse and therefore, boosting disposable income.
However, Scott Storey, MD of software solutions CTS Retail, is concerned that the budget may not do enough to help many struggling retailers, particularly those in 'out of town' locations thanks to a decision not to freeze duty on fuel. He also points out that products need to be delivered to stores and so the cost of transportation will inevitably end up adding the price the customer has to pay.
Storey commented: "Whilst the Budget brings some tangible support to the retail sector in general, the effects at a micro-level are likely to be far less significant. Rising fuel costs mean that those in and out of town locations are likely to continue to suffer from a downturn in footfall.
I also believe that there are many retailers who will be relatively unaffected by the Olympics, meaning that the extended Sunday Trading Laws, could serve only to 'spread the load' of customers rather than result in more sales. "
Storey addressed his concerns for retailers at a recent industry breakfast briefing hosted by Casio, in which he urged retail suppliers to form partnerships that helped their customers to continue to trade during difficult economic conditions.
"In the current climate, we need to be working together to offer collaborative solutions to help support retailers," explained Storey. "Ultimately, it's about solutions which help keeps costs at a minimum and improve process, productivity and enhance the customer experience. In isolation, the benefits are marginal, but a combined effort from all angles could significantly improve life for retailers in the UK in the coming months."