Retailers urge Osborne to cut business costs

Kasmira Jefford
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THE COST of running a retail business has soared far beyond the increase in sales over the past six years, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned today, as it urged the chancellor to slash red tape and support consumer spending.

Retailers’ total operating costs have increased by 21 per cent – a huge £20bn – since 2006, taking annual operating costs to £116bn, according to a study by Oxford Economics for the BRC. But over the same period the value of retail sales rose by just 12 per cent. The BRC warned that spiralling costs are forcing store closures and curbing job creation.

Ahead of George Osborne’s budget on 20 March, the industry body renewed its plea to freeze business rates, which are set to rise to £175m in April, and laid out a string of reforms, including the introduction of a time-limited National Insurance holiday for all firms which take on an unemployed young person. It also called for the coalition to speed up progress towards its target of a £10,000 per year personal tax allowance.