The UK’s decision to quit the European Union will not damage economic growth, according to a survey of the country’s top 100 retailers.
A joint survey by Conlumino and law firm TLT found that 68% of Britain’s biggest firms by UK sales value do not believe Brexit will hinder their growth prospects.
However, retailers’ average growth expectations did fall from 3.5% to 3%, according to the Retail Growth Survey.
And businesses warned that the high street would lose more shops during the coming year, with retailers expecting 4,600 stores to close over the course of the next 12 months.
Prior to the shock referendum result, retailers predicted that 3,700 shops would be shuttered.
Almost 40% of closures are forecast to come from the under-pressure fashion sector, Conlumino and TLT said.
The research also found that more than a third of retailers (38%) expect their supply chain costs to rise following Brexit, while 74% said exporting would be tougher in the aftermath of the referendum.
Almost 80% of retailers surveyed said the cost of imports would rise once the UK leaves the EU.
Prices to rise?
In response, more than a third of retailers (37%) said they would offset the additional costs by putting up prices, although 47% said they planned to keep prices the same.
Many retailers admitted they would seek to reduce costs within their supply chains, with 69% saying they would review currency hedging arrangements, while 55% plan to change suppliers and 51% will source from different countries.
More than a fifth (22%) expect to bring more production back to the UK.
TLT head of retail Perran Jervis said: “Brexit has not blown retailers’ growth prospects significantly off course in the three months since the vote, but it is adding new pressures to those that retailers already face in a changing market.
“Store closures are clearly a challenge for the high street but this is not necessarily a sign of distress or a direct result of Brexit. Instead, this is likely evidence of retailers’ investments tracking consumer demand for different ways of shopping through online, mobile, home delivery and click-and-collect.”
Jervis added: “The findings suggest that retailers are alive to the new challenges posed by Brexit, but optimistic that they can continue to see respectable growth. Views about the fundamental uncertainties caused by changing shopping habits remain unaltered and the steps necessary to deal with them are still the primary focus.”