Britain’s embattled retail sector is facing a fresh triple bill of threats led by the introduction of a new minimum wage, evolving consumer priorities and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding next month’s vote on UK membership of the European Union.
Looking to the future across a horizon littered with traps and pitfalls, PricewaterhouseCoopers also added red tape and cyber threats to its ever-lengthening list of downsides facing the industry.
The gloomy prognosis was written following a survey of 37 chief executives representing supermarkets, fashion and home retail sectors which together employ close to one million. It found that a mere 29 per cent of respondents expressed confidence in the UK economy over the coming six months.
When looking to the longer term however, 60 per cent retained a rosy outlook for the coming three years.
Madeleine Thomson, UK retail and consumer leader at PwC, said:“It is apparent that retailers are wrestling with two major factors over the next 12 months, implementing the national living wage and adapting to changes in consumer demand, as customers change how they buy, what they buy and where they buy.
“It isn’t easy. At the same time as weathering economic and political uncertainties, and grappling with the outcome of the EU referendum, retailers have to keep up with emerging trends, anticipate consumer needs, and manage across a wide range of different channels.”
The retail environment is littered with the corpses of fallen giants, most recently with the collapse of BHS, MFI and Woolworths.