A poll of retailers by the Association of Convenience Stores on the eve of last month’s General Election showed that 54% of retailers had not at that stage made up their mind who to vote for twice as many as national opinion polls showed for the general population.
That’s probably because retailers have borne the brunt of so much red tape/legislational changes down the years, that the prospect of more upheaval, in whichever direction, is just too much to think about, let alone inspire anyone to make a decision, when for the most part it all looks like bad news economically.
In the event the result reflected the general indecision, and lack of interest by millions of potential voters to engage. Is the new coalition government good news or bad news? Probably a bit of both it depends how extreme your views are. But as ACS chairman James Lowman said, for many retailers, it’s not about what colour the new Government is (multi-coloured as it turned out), it’s about the specific actions it will take that will help or harm the ability to do business.
James and his team, and Brian Madderson at RMI Petrol, have already begun to move in on their chosen targets in the new Government, as they campaign for their various causes business rates, fuel pricing, tobacco display ban, alcohol duty, et al. Everyone should get behind them. The new government ministers must be accumulating quite a pile of letters from campaigning associations from all quarters. Hopefully our lobbyists will be among the first to be heard.
The RMIP-commissioned report by Barber Wadlow on the impact of the new Business Rates system for petrol stations, for example, makes for scary reading, as it predicts closures of around 5% of UK service stations not to mention putting a dent in the finances of a few others.
In the meantime, as always, for retailers it’s business as usual. This month’s next big thing? Something about football?