Retail pessimism hits levels not seen since recession

Four out of five of the UK’s leading retail chairman have stated that they aren’t ready for Brexit as pessimism in the sector skyrockets.

According to Korn Ferry’s 2018 Retail Chairmen Survey, which quantifies the views of 34 leading retail chairman employing more than 1.45 million people, pessimism about the future of retail has hit its highest level since 2012 at the peak of the recession.

Over 90 per cent of those interviewed expressed uncertainty about what Brexit would mean for their business, while a further 80 per cent said they were not prepared for it.

Another 79 per cent of chairmen believed consumer confidence would be adversely affected by the UK’s departure from the EU.

Despite growing pessimism for the retail industry as a whole, the chairmen were more positive about the future of their own businesses, with nearly three quarters expecting growth this year.

“Many traditional retailers are fighting a battle on multiple fronts,” Korn Ferry’s managing director of retail Sarah Lim said.

“Brexit is the headline issue, but with multiple industry challenges, not least an unresolved issue on business rates, heightened competition from online players and an uneven tax system, the call-out to Government to listen and take action has never been louder.

“An overwhelming majority (94%) of the chairmen we surveyed feel that the government is not doing enough to help the Retail sector.”

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