Most UK retailers still have no Brexit plans

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Brexit plan
(Image credit: PA)
// More than half of British retailers still have no Brexit plans in place, new research reveals
// 58% of retail decision makers believe cross-border trading will become more complex after Brexit
// 1/3 retailers experienced a fall in sales since the 2016 Brexit referendum
// Meanwhile, 43% of retailers preparing to raise prices for consumers regardless of the outcome

Despite three years passing since the EU referendum, more than half of UK retailers still have no plans in place for Brexit, according to a survey.

The survey of 200 British retail decision-makers carried out by Censuswide and commissioned by Global-e found that 57 per cent of British retailers not yet implemented plans for Brexit.

The survey also found that since the 2016 referendum, a third of retailers have experienced a fall in sales.

This, coupled with ongoing uncertainty, has left 54 per cent of retailers with a range of Brexit concerns.

Almost half – 49 per cent – anticipate a collapse in consumer confidence in the UK post-Brexit, 43 per cent anticipate difficulty in sourcing products or goods and 34 per cent will even consider rationing in the event of stock shortages.

Meanwhile regardless of the outcome in the trade negotiations, 43 per cent of UK retailers say they will have to raise prices post-Brexit.

Overall, Censuswide found that 52 per cent of retailers are concerned their business will be impacted negatively by currency fluctuations post-Brexit.

While many UK retailers that sell cross-border have benefited from a weakened sterling that makes products more appealing to shoppers overseas, the weaker the pound, the more expensive imported raw materials will be.

However, 39 per cent of the retailers surveyed anticipate a decrease in sales to the European Economic Area after Brexit and over 50 per cent stated that they don’t know the tariffs that their EEA consumers will have to pay after UK leaves the EU, suggesting that the attractive prices created by the weakened sterling may be offset by additional duties and taxes.

Despite wider concerns around companies moving operations abroad, over 70% of retailers have no plans to move all or part of their business to an EU country.

On the other hand, 22 per cent are considering this option and two per cent have already moved their business.

When it comes to international growth planning, Censuswide found that 55 per cent of retailers have not changed their international operations and strategy since the 2016 referendum, and only 18 per cent have invested more in growing their business outside the UK.

The survey also found that government’s delayed Brexit date of October 31 poses a significant risk to retail performance over the fourth quarter, with 38 per cent of retailers of the opinion that online trading will be affected by the timing.

Larger retailers with over 250 employees voiced greater concern than SMEs, at 56 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

Of the 67 per cent of retailers that sell online to shoppers internationally, 38 per cent have seen an increase in cross-border ecommerce sales.

While 58 per cent of these retailers accept that selling internationally will become more complex, 57 per cent of retailers overall are confident their business can flourish internationally after Brexit.

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