It’s been a dreadful last few weeks, first with the terror attacks in Manchester and London and then the Grenfell Tower fire, which looks like staying in the news for some time to come. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected. But it has also been heart warming to hear the grocery industry’s generous response, both individually and corporately.
On the political front Gavin Matthews, Head of Retail at law firm Bond Dickinson has mixed feelings about the muted Queen’s Speech’s implications for retailers: “There were no details of the kind of Brexit the Government hopes for, to give retailers some much needed certainty. And no mention of a business rates review. There’s no Queen’s Speech next year, giving Parliament time to pass all the legislation needed before we leave the EU in March 2019. So unless there’s another election, retailers must wait until 2019 to find out about business rate reforms.”
Gavin also points to the forthcoming Immigration Bill, saying retailers will be hoping this will enable them to continue employing the estimated 8% of their workforce who come from the EU. A Data Protection Bill will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation, perhaps increasing compliance costs for retailers.
Other measures Gavin Matthews says could affect retailers’ bottom lines include a national living wage rise to 60% of median earnings by 2020 and continuing increases so store workers have the same improvements in earnings as the average worker. Further measures likely to increase red tape include new proposals to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination, reforms to ensure people with mental ill health are treated fairly and protected from discrimination and extended consumer protection through ensuring fairer markets for consumers.
Meanwhile we can report some comfort from an unexpected source – Amazon’s $13.7 billion bid for Whole Foods, which Rupal Karia, Fujitsu’s Head of Commercial, UK and Ireland thinks is good news for traditional grocery retailers. He cites Fujitsu’s Forgotten Shop Floor study, which reports 75% of people believing Amazon would become their go-to store if they had a physical presence, which the Whole Foods deal would certainly give them. Fujitsu’s study also shows that 8 out of 10 consumers said they would spend more with retailers who had a better technology offering. It’s a further incentive for the major multiples to invest more in their IT infrastructures and avoid glitches like the recent online issues that resulted in thousands of Tesco’s grocery home delivery drop-offs being cancelled.
Have a good month and enjoy the sunshine.