We need a vibrant high street if the economy is to continue growing

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Birmingham

“The Chancellor has a difficult balancing act to please all the constituents likely to be affected by this year’s Spring Budget. A case in question is the suggestion that entrepreneurs will be encouraged to embark upon new commercial ventures whilst dark clouds gather above, threatening a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed”  

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The Chancellor has a difficult balancing act to please all the constituents likely to be affected by this year’s Spring Budget. A case in question is the suggestion that entrepreneurs will be encouraged to embark upon new commercial ventures whilst dark clouds gather above, threatening a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed. This, coupled with increasing business rates, makes for a gloomy forecast for the UK’s high street. 

For a nation of shopkeepers, the UK’s retail market is a barometer of the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s economy. The pursuit of product innovation, the early adoption of technology and the launch of e-retailing to support the traditional bricks and mortar offer on the high street, are all phases of development, that together, have resulted in a highly successful and profitable consumer market in the UK. 

So, where does the prospect of increased operating costs leave the independent shopkeeper and retail risk-taker after this year’s budget? The UK is credited with a number of world-beating retailers, which have grown through the support of successive governments, and subsequently are big enough to weather the storm. But, to nurture the next generation of retail entrepreneurs and foster their motivation and creative flair-  the very lifeblood of any successful market - the Chancellor will need to make some concessions. This does not have to be viewed as a ‘giveaway’, it would simply be the means, in essence ‘the gas in the engine’, which could drive the high street to continually evolve and prosper.

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