General Election 2017: What the Result Means for Merchants

Like it or not, the UK’s retailers are significantly impacted by the government in Westminster and the legislation it passes. This year’s snap general election announcement was met with a mixed reaction from merchants and industry groups. Although the result seemed a foregone conclusion, any source of uncertainty (and any distraction from Brexit negotiations) seemed unhelpful.

28th June 2017

An unexpected result


The exit poll surprised us all with its suggestion of a hung parliament - but it proved accurate. Regardless, the Conservative Party were the largest party and the only party in a position to form a government. By losing their majority, the Conservatives were seen by many to have lost their political gamble - even though they held a huge 42.4% of the vote.


A minority government?

Northern Ireland’s DUP were the only feasible candidate for a coalition government, but the two parties instead worked towards a confidence and supply arrangement, a less formal arrangement that sees the smaller party supporting the minority government.

At the time of writing, the deal between the Conservatives and the DUP has just been finalised - yet negotiations have certainly been more protracted than the coalition arrangement we saw in 2015.

However, there’s no way of knowing how long the DUP deal will last - and many commentators expect there to be another election within the year.

Brexit implications

The result of the election means the government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations is unclear. Some claim that the government will be forced to soften their stance to ensure their deal passes in the House of Commons. At the time of writing, all we know of the negotiations is that Theresa May has offered EU citizens who’ve lived in the UK for five years ‘settled status’.


What does this mean for merchants?

Unfortunately, we’re left in an even more uncertain situation that we were before the election. A slim majority in parliament means that controversial infrastructure projects are less likely to make it through, potentially reducing the workload for builders’ merchants in these areas, which may in turn impact other retailers through lost business.

However, there is positive news. In the Queen’s Speech, housebuilding, business growth and industrial strategies were prominent. Although the Brexit negotiations will undoubtedly be the main priority of the government, the acknowledgement that more homes need to be built, as well as the focus on business growth and productivity, are certainly good news for merchants in all industries.

Planning for uncertainty

Ultimately, the biggest source of uncertainty for UK merchants over the next five years will be the final Brexit deal. This could impact trade, inflation, recruitment, and the health of the entire UK economy. To protect your business from uncertainty, now is the time to create contingency plans for the various outcomes, such as:


  • How will you respond to sharp price increases from suppliers?
  • Is there a way to diversify your business to protect yourself from the impact of downturns in certain sectors?
  • Are there any opportunities for expansion? How will you take advantage of them?


A hung parliament may not have been the most helpful election result for the UK’s retailers, but by preparing for the future and keeping an eye on your company finances, you can shield your merchant from the worst impacts.

Looking for a better EPOS solution to help you with financial visibility? See what Trader has to offer merchants.

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