2014 Autumn Statement analysis for retailers

The Autumn Statement was a mixed bag for retailers.

04th December 2014

The 2014 Autumn Statement is the last Statement of this parliament, and, given that the next Budget will take place only a couple of months before the general election, this Statement represented the last significant change to fiscal policy of the coalition government. Of course, many of the major announcements were made before the Statement itself was delivered, but there remained plenty of interesting announcements within the Statement itself. Retailers and merchants will have received some encouraging news and some disappointments from this year’s Autumn Statement. Let’s explore some of the most significant news to come out of the chancellor’s speech.

Boosts to the construction industry
Builders’ merchants and hardware stores will be pleased to note that the Autumn Statement contained plenty of good news for construction companies. Although the announced infrastructure and flood defence projects will be funded through an investment first earmarked last year, having confirmation of the location of these projects is helpful to the construction industry. In addition, the changes to stamp duty (arguably the biggest story to come out of the Autumn Statement) will provide a long-term boon to the construction industry, as buyers will face one less cost when purchasing property. Of course, a healthier construction industry leads to a healthier market for builders’ merchants. Using trader software can help you take advantage of these new opportunities.

Assistance for small businesses
Small businesses will benefit from a £45 million export fund, in addition to another freeze on fuel duty and additional tax breaks for research and development. Tax relief will be granted for the building of flood defences. The double business rates relief for small businesses will continue for another year, and business rates powers will be devolved to Wales.

Business rates reform
As expected, there was no announcement of an overhaul to business rates during the Autumn Statement, but the speech contained a pledge for a full review into this controversial tax. It remains to be seen when this review will be completed, adding yet more frustration for companies that feel they are paying an unfair amount in business rates.

As a whole
The entire announcement was suitably business-friendly. The only real negative effect on businesses was the so-called ‘Google tax’ – a 25% tax on money that is shifted offshore (usually by large corporations) for tax reasons. The coalition government is still trying to improve conditions for UK enterprises, which has created a pro-business attitude across the country. However, the chancellor also confirmed that large public sector cuts would have to continue for the remainder of the decade to eliminate the deficit. These cuts are likely to have an indirect impact on the prospects of retailers.

During the next twelve months retailers will face many uncertainties, with the result of the general election still far from certain. EPoS and stock control software can help you weather the storm, improve efficiencies and identify new or under-exploited revenue sources. Learn more about our software for builders’ merchants and other retailers on the Integrity Trader website. 

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