Gordon Brown enters the Top 100 as much for his affect on the mood of the public as for his policy decisions.
Streams of bad headlines around the banking crisis sent shockwaves through consumer spending but the MP expenses scandal and the poignant images of British casualties in Afghanistan just added to the general depressive state of the nation, putting shopping right to the back of their minds.
Brown’s most significant decision was to cut VAT from 17.5% to 15% in an attempt to stimulate consumer spending, but many felt this was just a desperate political measure and it caused major logistical issues for retailers. In fact, a report by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers found that for 88% of consumers surveyed, the cut did not have any effect on their buying habits. For the indies though it did bring a welcome margin boost, albeit it a temporary one, as most did not pass the saving on.
Worse, his decision to revert to the 17.5% rate on January 1 is set to cost retailers about £90m, according to the British Retail Consortium.