Graham T reports... Our Zoom meeting speaker on October 30th was Howard Saycell, who is Chief Executive of Retra (the UK’s leading trade association for independent electrical retailers and servicing organisations) whose topic was "The Impact of COVID on the retail sector".
What an interesting talk we were enthralled by. As in many of our recent talks Howard was on top of his subject both in the delivery and his answering of the many questions.
The first notable revelation was that retail has a 7% share of GDP yet bears 25% of this
country’s business rates. During the good times that we have had in our recent history this was able to be absorbed but now it was proving the last straw in bringing businesses to their knees. The rise of internet trading has not helped and the latest turnover of £74.4 billion for Amazon in the last quarter, a rise of nearly 40%, really brought this home. Wisely, Howard did not venture into the amount of business rates and taxes that they pay.
The only bright note that we were given was that the recent problems had brought about a rise in
specialised small businesses. Indeed, in the small town that Howard lives an artisan bakery and a delicatessen have arisen and are thriving thanks to vigorous local support.
Consumers are, in general, supporting their local shops. Unfortunately, it may be too little, too late.
In my introduction, I mentioned the 14 shops currently empty in Coney Street. I am sure that we all remember what a bustling street this was in the recent past.