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UK Government announces ‘bounce-back’ plan for the retail industry

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Sep 9, 2020

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced new trade measures for the consumer and retail industry to help support businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘bounce-back’ plan, announced by the exports minister includes new measures to “help boost exports and increase British retail firms’ readiness to sell overseas,” as well as the creation of a new ‘Consumer and Retail Export Academy’ to help businesses export via a digital learning syllabus featuring “critical knowledge, skills and networks needed to increase exports”.

Explaining the measures, exports minister, Graham Stuart MP, said in a statement: “We recognise that coronavirus has brought challenges to many industries, not least the consumer and retail sector, where so much depends on face-to-face interactions. This package of support will give businesses the helping hand they need to adapt their methods and thrive in the future.

“More trade and investment is absolutely critical if the industry, and our whole economy, is to overcome such challenges. These measures provide both short and long-term support for businesses that employ so many people across the UK.

“As we continue to encourage businesses to increase their trade overseas, we will also ensure that they can take full advantage of the opportunities that will be unlocked through our negotiation of Free Trade Agreements with countries around the world.”

The retail industry is a key pillar of the UK economy, explained the government, contributing 104 billion pounds of gross value added to the UK economy in 2019, with the value of retail sales reaching 395 billion pounds in 2019, a 3.8 percent increase from 2018, so it is an important sector that has been especially hard-hit by Covid-19.

Department for International Trade launches plan to boost exports for British retailers

The new measures aim to offer immediate support to businesses by ensuring specialists provide advice on online retail and international market-places. In addition, the plan outlines long-term support for the sector as new export opportunities arise from trade deals being negotiated with the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

With the value of retail sales made online rising by more than 300 percent in the last 10 years, a trend that the government expects to continue as a result of coronavirus, e-commerce is at the heart of the plans, with measures tailored to help consumer and retail businesses develop international, multi-channel, e-commerce strategies fit for the changing retail environment.

Commenting on the government’s ‘bounce back’ plan, Helen Brocklebank, chief executive of luxury brand membership group Walpole, said: “British luxury brands support more than 160,000 highly sustainable and skilled jobs round the UK, contribute 48 billion pounds a year to the economy and generate 4.5 billion pounds per annum from sales of high-end goods to non-UK resident customers. The pandemic and the inability and reluctance of visitors to travel to our shores has had a devastating impact on those businesses.

“Walpole welcomes the measures and support announced by the DIT today. We have a well-established relationship with the DIT and the Great Campaign and this new package of support will be incredibly beneficial to all businesses. 80 percent of British luxury goods in value terms is destined for export markets including the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East and, whilst face-to-face sales to non-UK resident customers on our own soil remains crucial, this support will enable businesses to maximise revenues in very trying circumstances. This will be an incredible boost particularly to the SMEs that form the backbone of British luxury, exporting British creativity, craftsmanship and design to the world.”

Image: FashionUnited