Analysis: indecision over Brexit is bad news for retailers

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The government hoped to take Britain out of the EU today, March 29th. But as Theresa May and MPs appear no closer to securing a final deal, Lydia Johnson takes a look at the impact on retailers.

When Britain finally does leave, it will spell a disruptive period for small businesses. What exactly will it mean for them?

Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row B2 5HU

No one is certain on what the future holds for independent retailers, but the proposed draft agreement gives people an idea on what a hard Brexit or no deal Brexit could look like.

Trading

In 2017, the UK exported around £342 billion to non-EU countries and a further £274 billion to EU countries. 

Birmingham-based British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) have already released their thoughts on how Brexit could affect retailers.

A spokesperson for BIRA said: “There will be changes to UK-EU trade at the border. This will include customs, trade tariffs and VAT, safety and security for goods, and document requirements. You’ll need to register for an EORI number – the Operator Registration and ID number – to keep your products moving across the border.”

If the UK and EU come to a withdrawal agreement, small businesses can expect to see a transition period. This will run until 31st December 2020, during which little will change.

The implications of Brexit for the trade relationship between the UK and EU are still not finalised (www.parliament.co.uk)

Employment

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chairman Mike Cherry believes the impact of Brexit on retail will be based on how the UK leaves the EU:

“Brexit-related uncertainty is causing a serious skills shortage right across the country. If we crash out of the EU, those shortages will become more acute.”

Longer term, there may be the introduction of yearly work visas for low-skilled immigrants or getting rid of the current cap on the number of highly skilled immigrants.

The FSB has provided its members with a small business Brexit pack.

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