Retail industry, Business, The Guardian, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


Retail industry

British retail consortium

High street hopes ‘the Meghan effect’ will sprinkle stardust over brand Britain

Published: 8:00 PM

Up to 800 jobs may go as Toys R Us looks to close third of UK stores

Published: 7:08 PM

Brief letters How they got it right on 54BC and all that

Published: 6:53 PM

Palmer Harvey paid out £70m since 2008 despite ongoing losses

Published: 6:39 PM

Morrisons found liable for staff data leak in landmark ruling

Published: 5:53 PM

Top US firms including Walmart and Ford oppose Trump on climate change

Published: 4:32 PM

The Christmas jumper is out. Time for the Christmas suit!

Published: 2:03 PM

Kellogg’s UK prompts anger by branding Frosties an adult cereal

Published: 10:24 AM

Co-op and Iceland back bottle deposit scheme to reduce plastic pollution

Published: 7:01 AM

Just Eat £5.5bn valuation: online takeaway company now worth more than M S

Published: 7:37 PM

Pass notes Get your pet in the Christmas spirit with Pawsecco, the fizz for cats and dogs

Published: 1:40 PM

The vinyl revival proves it: we love a bit of inconvenience

Published: 1:24 PM

UK consumers told to keep apples in fridge as part of wider labelling shake-up

Published: 7:01 AM

Your problems with Anna Tims Currys’ Knowhow team really knows how to alienate its customers

Published: 7:00 AM

Ed Sheeran and Gallagher brothers lead vinyl revival at HMV

Published: 6:46 PM

Wholesaler P H goes into administration with loss of 2,500 jobs

Published: 6:08 PM

John Lewis defies the gloom to hit Black Friday sales record

Published: 1:04 PM

UK’s cheapest Christmas dinner will cost 18% more than last year

Published: 6:01 AM

Cyber Monday: the best UK deals in one list

Published: 5:25 PM

Why this white paper on industrial strategy is good news (mostly)


The real reason our shops are shutting up, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


The real reason our shops are shutting up

British retail consortium

British retail consortium

8:19PM BST 28 May 2013

Another day, another report on the death of the high street. According to the Centre for Retail Research, the number of shops in Britain is predicted to fall by more than a fifth by 2018, blighting our town centres and suburban malls with a further 60,000 boarded-up stores. We are, it says, facing a crisis .

This is certainly true but one of the main problems when it comes to fixing it is that we re blaming the wrong things. The usual culprits suggested are the march of the big supermarket chains, the state of the economy, and above all the growth of the internet. Even the biggest names in retail are not immune: last week, Marks Spencer said that it won t build any more clothes stores in the UK after 2016, as sales migrate online. And the mighty Tesco has said that it is ditching more than 100 empty plots of land that it had jealously and expensively acquired to build giant hypermarkets , and will instead focus on the internet.

Certainly, the web has its part to play, as does the flatlining state of consumer spending. Yet according to retailers themselves, the biggest single reason why so many shops are closing down is because of rising financial demands from government, in the form of business taxes, and from landlords, in the form of rent.

Take Clapham Books, the sort of shop that every high street needs. Friendly, independent and so plugged into the community that it deserves its own seat on the council, this south London bookshop is being forced to close at the end of the summer and look for cheaper premises elsewhere. If people see an independent bookshop closing they assume it s because of Amazon and e-books, says Ed McGarry, the shop s manager. But it s not. You can figure ways around all those things. It s about rising rent and business rates.

In Clapham Books s case, a recent increase proposed by the landlord means that its rent will have quadrupled in 15 years. The same is happening all over the country. According to the British Retail Consortium, the overall cost of doing business for shopkeepers has risen from £96 billion to £116 billion since 2006. Looked at another way, costs have risen by 21 per cent against a sales increase of just 12 per cent. Even where rents have remained static, or fallen (as the British Property Federation claims they generally have), there s still the problem of business rates. These are partially set using that pernicious tool of government revenue-generation, the multiplier , adjusted every April in line with the previous September s inflation figure. So this year, rates rose by 2.8 per cent, adding £175 million to retailers bills overnight.

Related Articles

Of course, the internet is playing its part in the changing retail landscape. By 2018, a fifth of all sales will be online, and retailers of all sizes are being forced to adapt to ensure their long-term survival. As part of its reinvention, Tesco will not only focus on internet sales, but open more smaller shops. It also recently acquired Giraffe, the family restaurant chain, in recognition that its future is about giving people a day out rather than just luring them to a big shed full of products.

John Lewis, meanwhile, is offering consumers increasingly flexible ways to shop: goods ordered online can be collected in department stores or branches of Waitrose, while shoppers can return online purchases of clothes and shoes at a network of 5,000 convenience stores and petrol stations across the UK. Hotel Chocolat, the fast-growing confectionery chain, has gone down the fine wine route. It is engaging shoppers by putting labels on its bars that show the terroir , including the year of the harvest and the amount of time the beans spent roasting. It also raised £3.7 million by launching a bond whereby investors were repaid in bimonthly deliveries of chocolate.

In fact, all retailers are having to be increasingly inventive about how they think with some wonderful results. I was a judge for The Bookseller s awards earlier this month, in which dozens of retailers proved that the high street can still be a vibrant place. One small bookshop Linghams in the Wirral is so good at putting on events and editing its range to local tastes that a nearby branch of Tesco directs shoppers to it. And two years ago an entrepreneur called Amarjeet Singh opened 98p+ shops opposite Poundland branches, undercutting them by 2p.

Britain remains a nation of shopkeepers ones with enough ideas to see the high street through its current crisis, even if in altered form. But for that to happen, ministers and landlords need to stop wringing their hands about the internet, and start cutting the crippling costs that retailers are forced to pay.


UK retail sales pick up slightly while analysts warn of consumer sector stress over Brexit


UK retail sales pick up slightly while analysts warn of consumer sector stress over Brexit and inflation

The latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor shows retail sales rose 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same month a year earlier

  • Ben Chu Economics Editor
  • @Benchu_
  • Monday 4 September 2017 23:21 BST

The Independent Online

British retail consortium

Food sales were down 0.5 per cent year-on-year in the three months to August Getty

Retail sales picked up slightly in August, but analysts warned that the consumer sector’s stress was far from over given Brexit and rising inflation.

The latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor shows that the value of retail sales rose 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same month a year earlier.

On a total basis, sales were up 2.4 per cent.

Read more

This was the strongest growth seen since Easter.

However, over the three months to August, the slowdown trend seen this year was still clear.

All sales were down 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same period a year earlier, with food sales down 0.5 per cent.

Non-food sales were up just 0.2 per cent and food sales by 0.9 per cent.

“Stark challenges lurk around the corner for the retail industry. Purchasing decisions are very much dictated by a shrinking pool of discretionary consumer spend, with the amount of money in people’s pockets set to be dented by inflation and statutory rises in employee pension contributions in a few months’ time,” said Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the BRC.

“Retailers have managed to achieve stronger than expected growth, however adding to this could be the fact that consumers appear to be turning a blind eye to the potential crush on spending power to come. The industry now needs to overcome further devaluation of the pound and the increased costs therein,” said Don Williams, retail partner of KPMG.

The Office for National Statistics reported that retail sales volumes – adjusted for inflation – were up just 0.3 per cent in July, with the annual rate dropping sharply from 1.3 per cent from 2.8 per cent previously.

Inflation in July was 2.6 per cent, unchanged from the previous month, but up from just 0.5 per cent at the time of the 2016 Brexit vote.

Many analysts expect inflation to hit 2.9 per cent later this year.

Retail sales account for around 30 per cent of household spending, which in turn accounts for around 60 per cent of UK GDP.

Consumer spending was responsible for the surprisingly strong GDP growth in the wake of last year’s referendum, and the slowdown since the turn of the year is largely responsible for the weakening of the economy in 2017.


Retail industry, Business, The Guardian, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


Retail industry

British retail consortium

High street hopes ‘the Meghan effect’ will sprinkle stardust over brand Britain

Published: 8:00 PM

Up to 800 jobs may go as Toys R Us looks to close third of UK stores

Published: 7:08 PM

Brief letters How they got it right on 54BC and all that

Published: 6:53 PM

Palmer Harvey paid out £70m since 2008 despite ongoing losses

Published: 6:39 PM

Morrisons found liable for staff data leak in landmark ruling

Published: 5:53 PM

Top US firms including Walmart and Ford oppose Trump on climate change

Published: 4:32 PM

The Christmas jumper is out. Time for the Christmas suit!

Published: 2:03 PM

Kellogg’s UK prompts anger by branding Frosties an adult cereal

Published: 10:24 AM

Co-op and Iceland back bottle deposit scheme to reduce plastic pollution

Published: 7:01 AM

Just Eat £5.5bn valuation: online takeaway company now worth more than M S

Published: 7:37 PM

Pass notes Get your pet in the Christmas spirit with Pawsecco, the fizz for cats and dogs

Published: 1:40 PM

The vinyl revival proves it: we love a bit of inconvenience

Published: 1:24 PM

UK consumers told to keep apples in fridge as part of wider labelling shake-up

Published: 7:01 AM

Your problems with Anna Tims Currys’ Knowhow team really knows how to alienate its customers

Published: 7:00 AM

Ed Sheeran and Gallagher brothers lead vinyl revival at HMV

Published: 6:46 PM

Wholesaler P H goes into administration with loss of 2,500 jobs

Published: 6:08 PM

John Lewis defies the gloom to hit Black Friday sales record

Published: 1:04 PM

UK’s cheapest Christmas dinner will cost 18% more than last year

Published: 6:01 AM

Cyber Monday: the best UK deals in one list

Published: 5:25 PM

Why this white paper on industrial strategy is good news (mostly)


Government needs to support the welfare of supply chain workers, says British Retail Consortium, The


Government needs to support the welfare of supply chain workers, says British Retail Consortium

The comments follow reports of incidents of labour abuse in the supply chains of two Italian food giants that supply British supermarkets

  • Emma Featherstone
  • Thursday 26 October 2017 13:32 BST

The Independent Online

British retail consortium

Tinned tomatoes on British supermarket shelves may contain tomatoes picked migrant workers facing labour abuses Thomas Martinsen / Unsplash

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the Government to do more to ensure the welfare of supply chain workers, following reports earlier this week of labour abuses at factories that supply British supermarkets.

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported incidents of labour abuse in the supply chains of two Italian food giants – Mutti and Conserve Italia – which supply major British supermarkets with tinned tomatoes and passata.

The investigation involved fruit picking workers and reportedly began with the death of a Sudanese farm worker in the fields of Nardó, Southern Italy. The farm worker was reportedly hired under a so-called gangmaster system, that is in operation across the country’s agricultural sector, under which migrants are put into labour groups, which are then hired by Italian landowners.

British retail consortium

Supply chain transparency is key to ending worker exploitation

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said in a statement: “This is a tragic case and we expect the Italian authorities to carry out a full investigation. Where laws have been broken we expect the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

Mr Andrews added that the welfare of workers in supply chains was of upmost importance and that BRC members would investigate any allegations of malpractice. He said that retailers in the UK put in place mechanisms to protect their supply chains, including codes of conduct and training, but that this needs to be supported by “effective government enforcement of labour standards”.

The Guardian reported that Italian prosecutor Paola Guglielmi had said that Mutti and Conserve Italia’s brand Cirio have been benefitting from “conditions of absolute exploitation” in the country’s multibillion-pound tomato industry.

It reported that court documents had shown that migrants had been forced to work for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, on minimal wage, with no access to medical care picking fruit that would be used in the goods of companies supplying to supermarkets around the world.

Neither Mutti nor Conserve Italia was immediately available for comment when contacted by The Independent.


UK retail sales pick up slightly while analysts warn of consumer sector stress over Brexit


UK retail sales pick up slightly while analysts warn of consumer sector stress over Brexit and inflation

The latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor shows retail sales rose 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same month a year earlier

  • Ben Chu Economics Editor
  • @Benchu_
  • Monday 4 September 2017 23:21 BST

The Independent Online

British retail consortium

Food sales were down 0.5 per cent year-on-year in the three months to August Getty

Retail sales picked up slightly in August, but analysts warned that the consumer sector’s stress was far from over given Brexit and rising inflation.

The latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor shows that the value of retail sales rose 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same month a year earlier.

On a total basis, sales were up 2.4 per cent.

Read more

This was the strongest growth seen since Easter.

However, over the three months to August, the slowdown trend seen this year was still clear.

All sales were down 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis on the same period a year earlier, with food sales down 0.5 per cent.

Non-food sales were up just 0.2 per cent and food sales by 0.9 per cent.

“Stark challenges lurk around the corner for the retail industry. Purchasing decisions are very much dictated by a shrinking pool of discretionary consumer spend, with the amount of money in people’s pockets set to be dented by inflation and statutory rises in employee pension contributions in a few months’ time,” said Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the BRC.

“Retailers have managed to achieve stronger than expected growth, however adding to this could be the fact that consumers appear to be turning a blind eye to the potential crush on spending power to come. The industry now needs to overcome further devaluation of the pound and the increased costs therein,” said Don Williams, retail partner of KPMG.

The Office for National Statistics reported that retail sales volumes – adjusted for inflation – were up just 0.3 per cent in July, with the annual rate dropping sharply from 1.3 per cent from 2.8 per cent previously.

Inflation in July was 2.6 per cent, unchanged from the previous month, but up from just 0.5 per cent at the time of the 2016 Brexit vote.

Many analysts expect inflation to hit 2.9 per cent later this year.

Retail sales account for around 30 per cent of household spending, which in turn accounts for around 60 per cent of UK GDP.

Consumer spending was responsible for the surprisingly strong GDP growth in the wake of last year’s referendum, and the slowdown since the turn of the year is largely responsible for the weakening of the economy in 2017.


The real reason our shops are shutting up, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


The real reason our shops are shutting up

British retail consortium

British retail consortium

8:19PM BST 28 May 2013

Another day, another report on the death of the high street. According to the Centre for Retail Research, the number of shops in Britain is predicted to fall by more than a fifth by 2018, blighting our town centres and suburban malls with a further 60,000 boarded-up stores. We are, it says, facing a crisis .

This is certainly true but one of the main problems when it comes to fixing it is that we re blaming the wrong things. The usual culprits suggested are the march of the big supermarket chains, the state of the economy, and above all the growth of the internet. Even the biggest names in retail are not immune: last week, Marks Spencer said that it won t build any more clothes stores in the UK after 2016, as sales migrate online. And the mighty Tesco has said that it is ditching more than 100 empty plots of land that it had jealously and expensively acquired to build giant hypermarkets , and will instead focus on the internet.

Certainly, the web has its part to play, as does the flatlining state of consumer spending. Yet according to retailers themselves, the biggest single reason why so many shops are closing down is because of rising financial demands from government, in the form of business taxes, and from landlords, in the form of rent.

Take Clapham Books, the sort of shop that every high street needs. Friendly, independent and so plugged into the community that it deserves its own seat on the council, this south London bookshop is being forced to close at the end of the summer and look for cheaper premises elsewhere. If people see an independent bookshop closing they assume it s because of Amazon and e-books, says Ed McGarry, the shop s manager. But it s not. You can figure ways around all those things. It s about rising rent and business rates.

In Clapham Books s case, a recent increase proposed by the landlord means that its rent will have quadrupled in 15 years. The same is happening all over the country. According to the British Retail Consortium, the overall cost of doing business for shopkeepers has risen from £96 billion to £116 billion since 2006. Looked at another way, costs have risen by 21 per cent against a sales increase of just 12 per cent. Even where rents have remained static, or fallen (as the British Property Federation claims they generally have), there s still the problem of business rates. These are partially set using that pernicious tool of government revenue-generation, the multiplier , adjusted every April in line with the previous September s inflation figure. So this year, rates rose by 2.8 per cent, adding £175 million to retailers bills overnight.

Related Articles

Of course, the internet is playing its part in the changing retail landscape. By 2018, a fifth of all sales will be online, and retailers of all sizes are being forced to adapt to ensure their long-term survival. As part of its reinvention, Tesco will not only focus on internet sales, but open more smaller shops. It also recently acquired Giraffe, the family restaurant chain, in recognition that its future is about giving people a day out rather than just luring them to a big shed full of products.

John Lewis, meanwhile, is offering consumers increasingly flexible ways to shop: goods ordered online can be collected in department stores or branches of Waitrose, while shoppers can return online purchases of clothes and shoes at a network of 5,000 convenience stores and petrol stations across the UK. Hotel Chocolat, the fast-growing confectionery chain, has gone down the fine wine route. It is engaging shoppers by putting labels on its bars that show the terroir , including the year of the harvest and the amount of time the beans spent roasting. It also raised £3.7 million by launching a bond whereby investors were repaid in bimonthly deliveries of chocolate.

In fact, all retailers are having to be increasingly inventive about how they think with some wonderful results. I was a judge for The Bookseller s awards earlier this month, in which dozens of retailers proved that the high street can still be a vibrant place. One small bookshop Linghams in the Wirral is so good at putting on events and editing its range to local tastes that a nearby branch of Tesco directs shoppers to it. And two years ago an entrepreneur called Amarjeet Singh opened 98p+ shops opposite Poundland branches, undercutting them by 2p.

Britain remains a nation of shopkeepers ones with enough ideas to see the high street through its current crisis, even if in altered form. But for that to happen, ministers and landlords need to stop wringing their hands about the internet, and start cutting the crippling costs that retailers are forced to pay.


The real reason our shops are shutting up, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


The real reason our shops are shutting up

British retail consortium

British retail consortium

8:19PM BST 28 May 2013

Another day, another report on the death of the high street. According to the Centre for Retail Research, the number of shops in Britain is predicted to fall by more than a fifth by 2018, blighting our town centres and suburban malls with a further 60,000 boarded-up stores. We are, it says, facing a crisis .

This is certainly true but one of the main problems when it comes to fixing it is that we re blaming the wrong things. The usual culprits suggested are the march of the big supermarket chains, the state of the economy, and above all the growth of the internet. Even the biggest names in retail are not immune: last week, Marks Spencer said that it won t build any more clothes stores in the UK after 2016, as sales migrate online. And the mighty Tesco has said that it is ditching more than 100 empty plots of land that it had jealously and expensively acquired to build giant hypermarkets , and will instead focus on the internet.

Certainly, the web has its part to play, as does the flatlining state of consumer spending. Yet according to retailers themselves, the biggest single reason why so many shops are closing down is because of rising financial demands from government, in the form of business taxes, and from landlords, in the form of rent.

Take Clapham Books, the sort of shop that every high street needs. Friendly, independent and so plugged into the community that it deserves its own seat on the council, this south London bookshop is being forced to close at the end of the summer and look for cheaper premises elsewhere. If people see an independent bookshop closing they assume it s because of Amazon and e-books, says Ed McGarry, the shop s manager. But it s not. You can figure ways around all those things. It s about rising rent and business rates.

In Clapham Books s case, a recent increase proposed by the landlord means that its rent will have quadrupled in 15 years. The same is happening all over the country. According to the British Retail Consortium, the overall cost of doing business for shopkeepers has risen from £96 billion to £116 billion since 2006. Looked at another way, costs have risen by 21 per cent against a sales increase of just 12 per cent. Even where rents have remained static, or fallen (as the British Property Federation claims they generally have), there s still the problem of business rates. These are partially set using that pernicious tool of government revenue-generation, the multiplier , adjusted every April in line with the previous September s inflation figure. So this year, rates rose by 2.8 per cent, adding £175 million to retailers bills overnight.

Related Articles

Of course, the internet is playing its part in the changing retail landscape. By 2018, a fifth of all sales will be online, and retailers of all sizes are being forced to adapt to ensure their long-term survival. As part of its reinvention, Tesco will not only focus on internet sales, but open more smaller shops. It also recently acquired Giraffe, the family restaurant chain, in recognition that its future is about giving people a day out rather than just luring them to a big shed full of products.

John Lewis, meanwhile, is offering consumers increasingly flexible ways to shop: goods ordered online can be collected in department stores or branches of Waitrose, while shoppers can return online purchases of clothes and shoes at a network of 5,000 convenience stores and petrol stations across the UK. Hotel Chocolat, the fast-growing confectionery chain, has gone down the fine wine route. It is engaging shoppers by putting labels on its bars that show the terroir , including the year of the harvest and the amount of time the beans spent roasting. It also raised £3.7 million by launching a bond whereby investors were repaid in bimonthly deliveries of chocolate.

In fact, all retailers are having to be increasingly inventive about how they think with some wonderful results. I was a judge for The Bookseller s awards earlier this month, in which dozens of retailers proved that the high street can still be a vibrant place. One small bookshop Linghams in the Wirral is so good at putting on events and editing its range to local tastes that a nearby branch of Tesco directs shoppers to it. And two years ago an entrepreneur called Amarjeet Singh opened 98p+ shops opposite Poundland branches, undercutting them by 2p.

Britain remains a nation of shopkeepers ones with enough ideas to see the high street through its current crisis, even if in altered form. But for that to happen, ministers and landlords need to stop wringing their hands about the internet, and start cutting the crippling costs that retailers are forced to pay.


Government needs to support the welfare of supply chain workers, says British Retail Consortium, The


Government needs to support the welfare of supply chain workers, says British Retail Consortium

The comments follow reports of incidents of labour abuse in the supply chains of two Italian food giants that supply British supermarkets

  • Emma Featherstone
  • Thursday 26 October 2017 13:32 BST

The Independent Online

British retail consortium

Tinned tomatoes on British supermarket shelves may contain tomatoes picked migrant workers facing labour abuses Thomas Martinsen / Unsplash

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the Government to do more to ensure the welfare of supply chain workers, following reports earlier this week of labour abuses at factories that supply British supermarkets.

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported incidents of labour abuse in the supply chains of two Italian food giants – Mutti and Conserve Italia – which supply major British supermarkets with tinned tomatoes and passata.

The investigation involved fruit picking workers and reportedly began with the death of a Sudanese farm worker in the fields of Nardó, Southern Italy. The farm worker was reportedly hired under a so-called gangmaster system, that is in operation across the country’s agricultural sector, under which migrants are put into labour groups, which are then hired by Italian landowners.

British retail consortium

Supply chain transparency is key to ending worker exploitation

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said in a statement: “This is a tragic case and we expect the Italian authorities to carry out a full investigation. Where laws have been broken we expect the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

Mr Andrews added that the welfare of workers in supply chains was of upmost importance and that BRC members would investigate any allegations of malpractice. He said that retailers in the UK put in place mechanisms to protect their supply chains, including codes of conduct and training, but that this needs to be supported by “effective government enforcement of labour standards”.

The Guardian reported that Italian prosecutor Paola Guglielmi had said that Mutti and Conserve Italia’s brand Cirio have been benefitting from “conditions of absolute exploitation” in the country’s multibillion-pound tomato industry.

It reported that court documents had shown that migrants had been forced to work for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, on minimal wage, with no access to medical care picking fruit that would be used in the goods of companies supplying to supermarkets around the world.

Neither Mutti nor Conserve Italia was immediately available for comment when contacted by The Independent.


The real reason our shops are shutting up, british retail consortium.#British #retail #consortium


The real reason our shops are shutting up

British retail consortium

British retail consortium

8:19PM BST 28 May 2013

Another day, another report on the death of the high street. According to the Centre for Retail Research, the number of shops in Britain is predicted to fall by more than a fifth by 2018, blighting our town centres and suburban malls with a further 60,000 boarded-up stores. We are, it says, facing a crisis .

This is certainly true but one of the main problems when it comes to fixing it is that we re blaming the wrong things. The usual culprits suggested are the march of the big supermarket chains, the state of the economy, and above all the growth of the internet. Even the biggest names in retail are not immune: last week, Marks Spencer said that it won t build any more clothes stores in the UK after 2016, as sales migrate online. And the mighty Tesco has said that it is ditching more than 100 empty plots of land that it had jealously and expensively acquired to build giant hypermarkets , and will instead focus on the internet.

Certainly, the web has its part to play, as does the flatlining state of consumer spending. Yet according to retailers themselves, the biggest single reason why so many shops are closing down is because of rising financial demands from government, in the form of business taxes, and from landlords, in the form of rent.

Take Clapham Books, the sort of shop that every high street needs. Friendly, independent and so plugged into the community that it deserves its own seat on the council, this south London bookshop is being forced to close at the end of the summer and look for cheaper premises elsewhere. If people see an independent bookshop closing they assume it s because of Amazon and e-books, says Ed McGarry, the shop s manager. But it s not. You can figure ways around all those things. It s about rising rent and business rates.

In Clapham Books s case, a recent increase proposed by the landlord means that its rent will have quadrupled in 15 years. The same is happening all over the country. According to the British Retail Consortium, the overall cost of doing business for shopkeepers has risen from £96 billion to £116 billion since 2006. Looked at another way, costs have risen by 21 per cent against a sales increase of just 12 per cent. Even where rents have remained static, or fallen (as the British Property Federation claims they generally have), there s still the problem of business rates. These are partially set using that pernicious tool of government revenue-generation, the multiplier , adjusted every April in line with the previous September s inflation figure. So this year, rates rose by 2.8 per cent, adding £175 million to retailers bills overnight.

Related Articles

Of course, the internet is playing its part in the changing retail landscape. By 2018, a fifth of all sales will be online, and retailers of all sizes are being forced to adapt to ensure their long-term survival. As part of its reinvention, Tesco will not only focus on internet sales, but open more smaller shops. It also recently acquired Giraffe, the family restaurant chain, in recognition that its future is about giving people a day out rather than just luring them to a big shed full of products.

John Lewis, meanwhile, is offering consumers increasingly flexible ways to shop: goods ordered online can be collected in department stores or branches of Waitrose, while shoppers can return online purchases of clothes and shoes at a network of 5,000 convenience stores and petrol stations across the UK. Hotel Chocolat, the fast-growing confectionery chain, has gone down the fine wine route. It is engaging shoppers by putting labels on its bars that show the terroir , including the year of the harvest and the amount of time the beans spent roasting. It also raised £3.7 million by launching a bond whereby investors were repaid in bimonthly deliveries of chocolate.

In fact, all retailers are having to be increasingly inventive about how they think with some wonderful results. I was a judge for The Bookseller s awards earlier this month, in which dozens of retailers proved that the high street can still be a vibrant place. One small bookshop Linghams in the Wirral is so good at putting on events and editing its range to local tastes that a nearby branch of Tesco directs shoppers to it. And two years ago an entrepreneur called Amarjeet Singh opened 98p+ shops opposite Poundland branches, undercutting them by 2p.

Britain remains a nation of shopkeepers ones with enough ideas to see the high street through its current crisis, even if in altered form. But for that to happen, ministers and landlords need to stop wringing their hands about the internet, and start cutting the crippling costs that retailers are forced to pay.