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    Revised business rates to increase shop closures, warns retailers’ body

    (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

    Higher business rates would damage the viability of many local communities by reducing the incentive to open new shops and increasing the risk of shop closures, a retailers’ body said today (15) calling on the Chancellor to freeze business rates at the Autumn Budget.

    Responding to the latest CPI inflation figures which shows overall inflation falling to 4.6 per cent and food inflation falling 2 percentage points to 10.1 per cent, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that after a brief pause in September, inflation is once again headed in the right direction, helped by the seventh consecutive month of falling food inflation.

    “Clothing & footwear and furniture inflation also eased as retailers competed to offer the best value for customers ahead of the festive season. Prices for rice, butter and yoghurt all fell on the month, as well for adult footwear, while higher commodity prices and the weaker pound fed through into higher inflation rates for chocolate and olive oil.”

    Dickinson however warned about upcoming challenges like slowly climbing oil prices, weakening consumer demand and higher wage bills that are pushing up business costs.

    “Such pressures would be exacerbated by the planned rise in business rates next year.

    “Retailers are working hard to keep prices down for hard pressed customers. Unfortunately, these efforts will be tested by a £480m-a-year increase in business rates from Spring 2024. Unless the Chancellor takes action and freezes business rates at the Autumn Budget, we could see added cost pressures filtering through to consumer prices.

    “Higher rates would also damage the viability of many local communities by reducing the incentive to open new shops and increasing the risk of shop closures,” warned Dickinson.

    ONS Consumer Price Index figures

    Year on Year changesSep-23Oct-23
    CPI (overall index)6.7%4.6%
    01    Food and non-alcoholic beverages12.1%10.1%
    02    Alcoholic beverages and tobacco11.2%11.0%
    03    Clothing and footwear6.9%6.2%
    04    Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels6.9%-3.5%
    05    Furniture, household equipment and maintenance3.7%3.1%
    06    Health8.2%8.0%
    07    Transport0.7%0.5%
    08    Communication8.1%8.1%
    09    Recreation and culture6.0%6.4%
    10    Education4.1%4.5%
    11    Restaurants and hotels8.6%7.5%
    12    Miscellaneous goods and services5.3%5.1%

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