Ongoing economic uncertainty hampering small retailers’ growth: FSB

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Ongoing economic uncertainty hampering small retailer's growth: FSB
Rising costs and continued economic uncertainty are taking their toll on small retailers, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
// 2/3 of business owners – many of which are retailers – don’t expect performance to improve in the coming 3 months
// The FSB said almost half feared things would get worse
// FSB’s study also suggested that investment plans are being put on hold

Rising costs and continued economic uncertainty are taking their toll on small retailers, leaving them unable to grow their business, a report warns.

Two-thirds of 1200 business owners – many of which are retailers – surveyed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said they did not expect performance to improve in the coming three months.

The FSB added that almost half feared things would get worse, the highest figure for five years.

FSB’s study also suggested that investment plans are being put on hold and fewer than one in seven employers are planning to hire staff in the next few months.


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Those trading internationally have also been hard hit by the uncertainty, the FSB said.

“These findings must serve as an urgent wake-up call for policymakers,” chairman Mike Cherry said.

“Even in the aftermath of the financial crash, we didn’t see such a sustained string of negative confidence readings.

“Three years of political uncertainty and rising costs have stifled output and left small firms unable to plan, invest and grow.

“There’s a real sense of exasperation among small firms. Big decisions – whether that be taking on new staff, purchasing machinery or embarking on sales in a new country – are being put on hold because we have no idea what our trading environment will look like in less than four weeks’ time.

“We need the government to seize this final opportunity to secure a Brexit deal: one that protects free trade, enables access to the right skills and includes a transition period.”

The new data comes a week after the FSB joined the likes of the CBI and the BRC in expressing concerns over how a no-deal Brexit could impact UK retail.

A separate FSB survey showed that 39 per cent of small businesses thought a no-deal Brexit would have a negative impact.

This compares to 34 per cent who thought it would have no impact and 11 per cent a positive impact.

The remainder of survey participants said they did not know.

The FSB said that most of those firms that thought a no-deal Brexit would harm their business said they were unable to plan ahead for it.

The average cost of small businesses’ preparations for a no-deal Brexit stood at around £2000 pounds, rising to £3000 pounds for companies that import and export, according to the FSB’s survey.

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