The Chancellor-in-waiting was the leading Tory who worried retailers prior to the election but while he has generally impressed with his handling of the economy in the past year, his austerity programme will be key to the health of retail over the next year. His austerity programme may be vital to getting the economy back on track, but retailers will be worried if he overdoes it and puts consumers off spending. Public sector job cuts are also a big concern to retailers, particularly in those parts of the country where government jobs form a big part of the economy.
While the double dip hasn’t materialised, there is still a great deal of anxiety among consumers and that’s putting them off big-ticket purchases. Maintaining recovery while not further denting consumer confidence is Osborne’s biggest challenge.