Although ONS statistics showed growing retail sales in February 2019, the FSB says not everything in the retail garden is rosy.
National Chairman Mike Cherry says the figures are a positive relief for the high street, and testament to the resilience of ambitious small business owners who are able to react quickly to trends and market changes. But he sounds a warning that high street businesses are under what he calls monumental pressure.
“Our own research shows confidence among small retailers is the lowest of all sectors, with pressure from employment costs, high rents and competition from large online brands all ramping up.
“Business rates are one of the biggest burdens looming over small firms, and these are set to rise yet again next month. On top of this, the rates multiplier that applies to larger premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or above in England, will rise above 50p for the first time, from April.
“It’s with certainty and support, the full potential of these small firms can be realised. The business rates discount announced by the Chancellor should give some relief to shops, pubs and cafés on the high street, which are vital to the economy and communities. But the relief must reach businesses, applying immediately to bills from 1 April – just over a week’s time.
“With local authorities distributing the much-needed relief, it’s vital that they take prompt action. These businesses, which are at the heart of high street communities and beyond, cannot afford delays.”