Rarely do politicians grace Drapers’ Top 100, but this year chancellor George Osborne could not be overlooked for the overarching impact he is gearing up to have on all bricks-and-mortar retailers owing to his pledge to review crippling business rates, and also his plans for a compulsory living wage which will touch nearly every UK retailer.
The business rates review was launched in March, with Osborne’s final decision expected in time for the March 2016 Budget, and retailers up and down the country are keeping their fingers crossed for a long-overdue reprieve which could save them thousands of pounds a year and prevent many smaller independents from collapse. Current valuations are still based on property prices in 2008, before the economic downturn hit the value of shops, as the government postponed last year’s planned revaluation.
Osborne then announced the new living wage of £7.20 in July which will come into effect next April, and rise to £9 by 2020. Many retailers, big and small, have already hit out at the potentially damaging impact this move could have on jobs, with concerns it could limit their ability to grow and take on new staff.
With clear aspirations for the top job at the next election in 2020, Osborne’s influence is only expected to grow for fashion retailers.