The general election’s surprise outcome presents a great opportunity to put retail front-and-centre of the political agenda.

We’re well used to the breakneck pace of the retail industry, where dramatic changes can happen in no time at all. What few of us were prepared for, it seems, was the sudden shift in the political landscape that was ushered in by the surprise result of the general election.

Pundits were certain we would have another hung parliament and pollsters predicted that the Tories would fall well short of the winning line – not one ‘expert’ forecast a Conservative majority, of any size.

“We can also use this time to build greater awareness of what barriers need to be removed”

Helen Dickinson, BRC

However, the nation woke up on May 8 to the formation of the first majority Conservative government since 1992. We also saw many big political beasts lose their jobs and scores of MPs take their seats on the green benches for the first time.

Both the new parliament and the new Government present us with a great opportunity to demonstrate afresh the value of our retail industry.

We can also use this time to build greater awareness of what barriers need to be removed to allow UK retailers to grow and flourish further.

Retail’s shared goals

Unsurprisingly, the BRC has been working hard to identify where the industry’s shared goals with government lie.

“We know there are practical steps that both the Government and retailers can take to reach common goals”

Helen Dickinson, BRC

Experience tells us that this collaborative approach will yield far better results for both the country and the industry than a shopping list of demands ever could. That’s why, in our recent submission to the Chancellor in advance of his July Budget, we focused on the key themes of business rates, EU reform and pay, progression and productivity.

In each of these areas we know there are challenges. But in each too, we know there are practical steps that both the Government and retailers can take to reach common goals.

At the start of this new parliament everyone is well aware of the challenges ahead. With bold and decisive action we are confident that the retail industry, the Government and the wider economy can meet them head-on.

Vision for the UK

As I write this the Chancellor will be dotting the Is and crossing the Ts of his emergency Budget.

As you read this, we’ll be poring over the Chancellor’s words from Wednesday and scouring the Red Book to assess which of the Government’s priorities support our own.

We’ll also be considering what we need to do to achieve an even closer alignment of our vision for retailing in the UK with the Government’s own agenda. This work will be vital in building the foundations of a working relationship that needs to endure for an entire parliament.

Famously, a week is a long time in politics. The priorities we outline now and the way we relate these to politicians, policymakers and the public, will set the tone for the political aeon that will be the next five years.

The new Government is busily setting its agenda and the BRC is making sure the retail industry is at the forefront of its thinking as it does.

  • Helen Dickinson, director-general, British Retail Consortium