Retail experts have called on the government to reform current business rates rules as new research reveals 44 shops vanish a week from the high street.
New figures from ratings agency Altus Group have revealed the staggering rate of shop closures. Since the last rates revaluation seven years ago 15,856 shops have been demolished or converted into homes across England and Wales.
The study also highlights the growing advantage online retailers have over their physical counterparts. Despite many shops struggling to keep up with their new business rates bills, online giant Amazon will see rates on its nine distribution centres cut by £148,000 to £11.3 million.
“If we want to maintain a variety of forms of competitive retail enterprise, from small stores to large big box and department stores serving villages, towns and big cities, we need to ensure that property and company taxes do not consistently penalise physical shops in favour of e-commerce,” the Centre for Retail Research’s Professor Joshua Bamfield warned.
President of UK business rates at Altus Alex Probyn added: “An online sales tax might be used to level the playing field, but it does not belong within a system based largely on rental values.
“An online sales tax, for example, should not be seen as a generator of additional income, but revenue could be ring-fenced and used to provide additional relief for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.”