Election 2019: Whoever wins, there will be no Christmas bonus for retailers

Christmas shopping centre

Campaigning has been rather subdued this week and rightly so. Last Friday’s tragic events at London Bridge threw the yah-booery of politics as usual into sharp relief.

However, the countdown to polling day continues and as it edges closer, no doubt minds will turn again to the promises being made in order to win votes.

From a retail perspective, what the parties have to say on business taxation will matter a great deal for the long-term health of the industry. Retailers account for 5% of GDP and pay around £13.5bn in direct taxation to HM Treasury in the form of national insurance, business rates and corporation tax. Any movement in things such as corporation tax rates (of which UK retailers pay around £2.7bn annually) will directly influence the bottom line of many retail businesses.

Unfortunately for the nation’s shopkeepers, any changes to business rates (which I looked at in my first column of the campaign) may well begin to be undone by the parties’ proposals for corporation tax. Labour is boldest in its plans, pledging to reverse many of the cuts that companies have benefited from under successive Tory-led governments. It has stopped short of scrapping them altogether, offering vaguely to ensure that they remain lower than they were in 2010. While the Tories aren’t planning any increases, they’ve decided the time is not right for any further cuts and have opted against pressing ahead with their previous plans to lower corporation tax further.

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