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Industry looks for vote of confidence

Jessica Brown

So, this week we know one thing - we’re less than a month away from a general election. But that’s about all we know. At the time of writing neither the Labour Party nor the Conservative party or Liberal Democrats had given much away about their plans to stabilise the economy.

So, this week we know one thing - we’re less than a month away from a general election. But that’s about all we know. At the time of writing neither the Labour Party nor the Conservative party or Liberal Democrats had given much away about their plans to stabilise the economy.

And that’s one of the problems. Without clarity or transparency from political leaders, where does consumer confidence go? Certainly not up. In fact, according to the Gfk NOP Consumer Confidence Index, shopper sentiment already waned in March, and that was before the political circus began.

Nor have the three main parties done much to engage the retail or supply sectors. In fact, Tory plans to reverse Labour’s proposed 1p in the £1 hike in National Insurance for those earning less than £45,000 is about the only policy to have engaged business leaders in recent weeks.

Retailers including Marks & Spencer executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Next chief executive Simon Wolfson have come out in support of shadow chancellor George Osborne’s plan to halt the so-called “tax on jobs”, while indies this week told Drapers they too would be crippled by Labour’s NI proposal.

Kurt Geiger chief executive Neil Clifford shares his reasons for opposing an NI hike in an open letter to Drapers.

Although both Labour and the Tories claim to have “no plans” to raise VAT, real questions remain over just how the three main parties plan to reduce the UK’s £163bn deficit.

Red tape and a lack of bank lending continue to hamper indies and small brands while credit insurance issues and the weak sterling are holding back suppliers.

All of these issues must be tackled by government for fashion to sustain its recovery. Unfortunately I suspect the true political picture will take more than four weeks to emerge.

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