With the UK entering Brexit, it’s no question that the retail industry is still uncertain of what is to come. Here, OnBuy’s Cas Paton reveals why the sector has the resilience to overcome anything.
Whoever said politics was boring? If the results of last month’s General Election proved anything, it’s that things can turn on a sixpence.
Once again, we have found the UK’s political institution flipped on its head as – at the time of writing, at least – a rather more deflated vision of Theresa May heads into Brexit negotiations under very different circumstances to the ones her many advisors foresaw.
Yet press on with those negotiations she must, with or without the ten seats of the DUP behind her, and with or without a majority Government.
What I do know is that the retail industry across the board is looking for a period of stability. In my view, part of that safe environment for growth and prosperity includes keeping corporation tax and business rates low, which is more important than ever.
At the time of writing, uncertainty still presides over our approach to Brexit. It doesn’t surprise me that retailers are becoming prudent when making business decisions, while some extra cautious ones look for concrete answers as to what the final deal will be.
Some of these may well wait until after Brexit before making any big plans. It remains a matter that is very much up in the air.
"UK retail will remain buoyant in spite of the challenges.”
Cas Paton, OnBuy
However, if anything, the past year has taught us is that uncertainty does not dent entrepreneurship and consumer confidence. For many retailers, it will be a case of ‘business as usual’.
I believe UK retail will remain buoyant in spite of the challenges ahead. The practical business of retail is, afterall, less dependent on movement within the EU than some of the other parts of the toy sector. In fact, we may even see a benefit from some of the changes.
OnBuy is a British-born and UK-based e-commerce platform that the toy industry is rapidly backing. Like any sector, e-commerce is not impervious to the impact of Brexit and there will be bridges to cross, depending on what deal is eventually struck.
The cost of importing goods potentially rising will, of course, be the prime concern for many retailers, but the flipside of this is that we will probably see a renewed focus on trading within the UK and with that, there will be fresh opportunities for the retail industry.
What is important for the UK now is that we do not lose our focus. We cannot – and we will not – lose our focus or pace, because, as well as the numerous pitfalls that we may now face, we also face a lot of opportunities and we have to be sure we take them.
Doing nothing isn’t an option. And while we may not know when or from where the next political upheaval will arrive, the UK retail sector has the inherent entrepreneurship and resilience to overcome.
Cas Paton is the founder of Onbuy, an online marketplace that compares prices from a range of retailers presenting users with the best deals on offer on a variety of products.