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17 October 2019

Action on business rates is priority, as latest retail sales fall flat

Responding to ONS figures showing monthly retail sales were flat (0.0%) in September, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said:

“The latest retail sales figures reflect a difficult year for the sector, and demonstrate the struggles our high street firms are currently facing. Confidence among small retailers remains low, with pressure from employment costs, high rents and competition from large, exclusively online brands.

“It is vital that in the upcoming Budget, the Chancellor prioritises business rates to help lessen the pressure on struggling small firms.

“While the retail rates discounts this year have been welcomed, these will soon come to an end – leaving us with a system that remains regressive and is not linked to a business’ ability to pay.

“Given the pressure on small businesses, improving the relief by increasing the 33% discount to 50% or more, making it permanent – and indeed extending it to include small firms across the economy, would help revitalise and reform town centres.

“The ball is firmly in the Government’s court when it comes to coming up with ways to improve the current business rates system and prove they are on the side of small businesses.”