THE coalition government has been urged by Britain’s biggest retail lobby group to give a shot in the arm to consumer confidence by scrapping the postponed fuel duty rise.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also today calls on the UK government to freeze business rates south of the Border in 2013 after two previous years of “substantial rises” as it claims high street sales growth is half what it was before the financial system nearly collapsed in 2008.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the global financial fallout from the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent retail sales plummeting and, stripping out inflation, “sales volumes are now going backwards”.
Highlighting that the retail industry accounts for 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), Robertson says the total sales growth rate has fallen from 4.3 per cent in 2007 to 2 per cent in 2011 and 2.3 per cent so far in 2012.
“Any successful economic fightback needs a return to strength for the retail sector,” he said. “It’s not enough just to talk about growth. We need the government to rebuild confidence, support customers and retailers, and get spending going again by holding back the costs it is responsible for.
“Scrapping the postponed fuel duty rise, now due in January, and freezing business rates are top of my list.”
His comments come as a separate survey out today shows the wider Scottish economy is continuing to “stagnate”. The Lloyds TSB Scotland Business Monitor says that, in the three months to August, 33 per cent of firms increased turnover, 36 per cent saw a decrease and 31 per cent experienced static sales.
This gave a net balance of minus 3 per cent, against minus 1 per cent in the previous period.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at Lloyds Banking Group, warned: “Business confidence remains depressed and a return to more vigorous growth in the Scottish economy awaits an increase in confidence in both consumers and businesses. This in turn depends upon convincing evidence of policy initiatives to contain the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and foster growth in the eurozone and UK economies.”
Speaking at the G20 summit in Mexico at the weekend, former European Central Bank policymaker Athanasios Orphanides warned the eurozone risks falling apart unless governments agree on a banking union.
Cyprus’ former central bank governor said critics – including Germany – need to back proposals for a banking union in order to help restore investors’ confidence in the eurozone.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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