By Daniel Hunter
The Chancellor's decision not to increase fuel duty in August should offer some relief to hard-pressed consumers and to the retail sector.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) called for the rise to be scrapped ahead of the Budget in March, pointing out it was an upward pressure on prices that made it harder for British businesses to compete internationally.
Underlying conditions for the retail sector remain extremely tough, however, and this will not transform retailers' fortunes. Inflation continues to outstrip wage growth and consumer confidence is low.
"Fuel price rises do double damage. They eat into customers' budgets, leaving them less money to spend on the things they need and want. Retailers themselves have to pay more to get goods to their stores, making it harder for them to keep shop prices down.," British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said.
"The announcement from the Chancellor that he will freeze duty for the rest of the year is a helpful sign that he is aware of the difficulties businesses are facing at the moment. Quicker action on this would've given retailers more certainty in planning for the year ahead but it's still a move we are extremely pleased to see.
"Reviving consumer confidence will be a slow process but moves which ease the pressure on household finances do help."
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