Like a GP, I hear a lot of symptoms. Except mine are solely from retailers. I try to offer what little advice I can and then refer them to a consultant. There is no doubt that my waiting room is as full as it has ever been – hardly surprising given the current circumstances in retail.
So what are the ailments? Of over-riding concern is the cost of borrowing and the breakdown in relationships with banks, as rates on overdrafts and loans have been increased in an arbitrary fashion.
The reputation of banks is at rock bottom and any loyalty there may have been to any specific banks has flown out of the window.
There is a need for the government to ensure that this matter is addressed before we see a raft of good independent businesses going bust due to cash flow difficulties.
We have made some progress in encouraging landlords to accept monthly rather than quarterly rental payments, with many of my ‘patients’ being very grateful for the pressure that has been applied in this quarter, but more needs to be done to stem the flow of businesses going under.
Worryingly, there are a lot of retailers out there who are not willing to seek help. The opportunity for a full health check exists if only they would pluck up the courage.
Joining a retail trade association offers retailers the benefits of ‘private health care’ at a minimal cost which is quickly recovered by using the services on offer.
There is no better time to take out a policy than today. Get a diagnosis and receive treatment before your business’s illness becomes terminal.
John Dean is chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association