The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released a ‘Manifesto for Retail’ – titled “Accelerating Investment in the Everywhere Economy”, which looks to lay the framework for a better future for the retail industry.
The term ‘everywhere economy’ refers to the fact that retail is present in every village, town, and city across the country. The retail industry is the largest employer in the private sector, providing 3 million direct jobs and a further 2.7 million in the supply chain.
The manifesto lays out three major ‘fixes’ to help support the retail industry, including:
- More coordinated approach to tax and regulation:
The BRC says the country needs a plan that recognises the “cumulative burden of government policy and the impact this has on investment and growth”, making reference to last year’s Autumn Statement which the BRC says placed an additional £4bn burden on the industry.
The BRC says that as retail jobs become more highly skilled an digitally focused, skills policy must evolve so the industry can train its workforce for new roles. This includes reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy so funds can be used to meet a wider range of training needs. The BRC says that approximately half of retail’s £250m levy contribution remains unspent.
- Net zero and the circular economy:
Policies are needed to support retailers’ investment into the technology needed to get to net zero, the BRC says. The group adds that it is vital that new waste and resources regulation provides meaningful improvements to recycling rates – which are currently at just 44% – and the use of recyclable materials, without unnecessarily raising costs for consumers.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The UK has one of the most developed retail offerings in the world, employing three million people and playing a key role in every community in the country. As political parties gear up for the next election, we need a different way of working with government so that we can use the industry’s size, scale and reach to deliver more. That means removing the blockages which hold the industry back, preventing it reaching its full potential. It’s time to support the upskilling of workers and accelerate our journey to net zero, while finding ways to address any unnecessary burdens on the industry and its sixty million customers.
“By delivering a more business-friendly approach to retail, the industry can deliver on its own vision – a net zero, digitally transformed industry which provides higher skilled, better paid jobs and more investment in local communities. It’s time to unleash the industry’s size, scale and reach to drive greater positive change.”