Three reports looking at three sectors of the consumer economy, and they draw very similar conclusions, yet oddly, or so it seems, we aren’t drowning our sorrows down the boozer.
If there is one part of the high street that has done well it’s the part where we imbibe, or masticate - cafes, coffee shops and restaurants are in. But not, or so it seems, pubs. According to the British Beer and Pub Association, during the third quarter of 2017, Brits drank 35 million pints down the pub less than in the same period a year before. That amounts to a 3.6 per cent fall. The association blames Philip Hammond, and maybe chancellors of the past too and maybe local councils. It says that business rates and tax on beer is to blame - pricing the pub out of reach.
The association’s chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “When the Government was cutting or freezing beer duty from 2013-15, sales of British beer stabilised, after years of steep decline.” But “beer has had a 39 per cent tax rise in the past decade. With tax rates 14 times higher than in Germany, these levels are unsustainable.”
Meanwhile, like-for-like retail sales fell one per cent in the year to September.
As for car sales, new registrations fell 12.2 per cent in the year to October.
A man who knows a thing or too about retail is Cally Russell, from Mallzee. Recently, in an interview with Fresh Business Thinking he said: “UK retail faces a perfect storm.”
He suggests that the three Ps of retail; people, product, and property are all becoming more expensive. The rising minimum wage, apprentice levy and pension commitments are increasing the cost of people. Product is more expensive, following the fall in sterling after the Brexit vote – “the pound is 20 per cent cheaper than a year ago, which has a huge impact in the retail world, and property doesn’t tend to become cheaper, especially in a retail context,” while business rates are going up. Combine this with rising inflation squeezing customers affordability.”