BRC calls for business rates freeze as inflation eases

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has made fresh calls for a freeze to the business rates multiplier as it recorded an easing of shop price inflation for the fifth consecutive month.

The BRC found that overall shop price inflation fell to 5.2 per cent in October, down from 6.2 per cent in September and below the three-month average rate of 6.1 per cent.

The figure puts price growth is at its lowest since August 2022.

Food inflation fell to 8.8 per cent in October, down from 9.9 per cent in September, marking the sixth consecutive deceleration in the food category and putting inflation is its lowest since July 2022.

“To keep inflation heading in the right direction, it is vital that the government does not burden businesses with unnecessary new costs,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson. “Without immediate action from the chancellor, retailers have an additional £470 million per year on their business rates bill, jeopardising the progress made.”

Dickinson added that should business rates rise, it would ultimately be consumers who would pay the price.

Bosses from 44 UK retailers – including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and M&S – recently penned a letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt calling for a freeze in the business rates multiplier expected to be announced in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

Recent research from CBI also found that sales fell in the year to October and at a faster pace than last month, marking the sixth month in a row in which annual sales have declined.

Martin Sartorius, principal economist at CBI said the retail sector remained in a “perilous position” as the festive period approaches and added that the government’s Autumn Statement could help relieve some of the tax burden on the sector by freezing business rates from rising with inflation for another year.

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