Britons are thinking very hard about spending on so-called big ticket items, the chairman of supermarket Asda Lord Stuart Rose said recently.
“There is no doubt about it, public confidence is down, people are thoughtful about spending money because they have to be, people are very thoughtful about big ticket spending,” Stuart Rose told LBC radio.
Rose, a veteran of the retail sector who was formerly the boss of Marks & Spencer, said the gap between the rich and poor in Britain had widened.
“The rich have got even richer, the middle classes are actually doing not too badly, those at the bottom of the pile are having a tough time,” he said. Rose, who campaigned against the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, said Brexit had hurt the economy.
“You’ve seen every single day now things that have not happened that we were promised would happen,” he said, giving the example of the lack so far of a trade deal with India. “We’ve got to find a way of getting this economy growing and growing it overseas and exporting.”
Speaking over recent rise in shoplifting and violent behaviour towards retail staff, Rose said theft had become a “big issue” for retailers amid a surge in shoplifting in recent months.
“I’d like to see something done. Exactly what and how, that’s always the problem.
“Theft is a big issue. It has become decriminalised. It has become minimised. It’s actually just not seen as a crime anymore, we’ve become risk averse.”
“The police have got lots of other things to do, although [Home Secretary] Suella Braverman now says that all crime will be investigated, so let’s see what happens,” he said.
Rose’s comments closely follow similar rallying cry by Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy for the Government and police to help supermarkets to better protect staff from abuse.
Writing in The Mail, the boss of the country’s largest supermarket called for English laws to ‘go further’ and make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in itself, as in Scotland. He also called for ‘better links between police forces and businesses’ to both take criminals to task and prevent incidents in the first place, as he pledged to offer a body camera to every frontline Tesco store worker.
Murphy said physical assaults at Tesco were up by a third on this time last year.