Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland Retail Partner, comments on support measures for the retail sector in the Budget:
“The Chancellor’s Budget has brought a range of measures intended to help retailers across the lockdown finish line. The extension of the furlough scheme and the announcement of restart cash grants is welcome news, particularly for non-essential retailers who are dependent on continued support until they can reopen.
“While the hospitality sector has been offered more support, such as higher grant amounts and an extension to the VAT reduction, the retail sector should also consider this a positive, as hospitality’s recovery will help to drive footfall to physical stores.
“Together with the Government’s anticipated timeline for exiting lockdown, the sector now has some of the clarity that it needs to be able to plan for recovery. This is a pivotal moment for retailers. To achieve success, they must not only navigate through the roadmap out of lockdown, but make the bold, strategic decisions necessary to position for longer-term growth.
“The Chancellor has also answered the sector’s calls for an extension to business rates relief – a much-needed measure given the cashflow challenges many businesses are facing – and avoided a ‘cliff-edge’ by setting discounted rates after the holiday ends. But with the Government delaying its business rates consultation report until the autumn, retailers will need to see if there will be the fundamental reform that many in the sector may feel is necessary for the high street’s long-term recovery.”