Retail action plan for Wales receives cautious welcome from independent retailers
The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has welcomed some elements of the retail action plan, recently announced by the Welsh government and the Wales Retail Forum, but says more needs to be done to support smaller businesses.
The Fed sees the extension of business rate relief through 2023 and 2024 – by freezing the non-domestic rates multiplier – the creation of a new scheme to support those facing an increase in rate liability, and provision of non-domestic rate relief of up to 75 per cent, as positive steps.
However, the intended increased support for retail workers seems to benefit bigger businesses, such as the supermarket chains, and raises the question of how the government will help smaller independents with staff development.
The Fed’s National President Jason Birks said: “While it is good to see that the retail action plan recognises the important contribution that smaller retailers make to the economy and local communities, we feel it doesn’t offer much in the way of assurances to those businesses.
“We believe our organisation should have a seat on the Wales Retail Forum so that the issues affecting our members, many of whom are newsagents and local convenience stores, are taken into serious consideration.
“Retail crime continues to be an area of major concern for our members, with shoplifting, physical and verbal abuse faced by many on a daily basis.
“While we fully support initiatives such as the ‘Be Kind’ campaign and appreciate the government looking out for retail workers, it needs to look at the root causes of this rise of abuse and how to reduce it through the establishment of business crime partnerships and initiatives.
“The retail action plan forms a good basis of ideas, but more communication is needed on the timescale of the rollout and details of the plan, and how the Welsh government and the Wales Retail Forum intend to meet their goals.”
The Welsh government published “Together for Retail: a Wales Retail Forum Action Plan”, which highlights key policies, including: championing workforce DEI at all levels, embedding fair work principles including promoting the Real Living Wage, assessing skills and training provisions, reducing town centre vacant premises, creating safer working environments and encouraging the retail sector to move towards net zero
The retail action plan builds on the Welsh government’s shared strategic vision for the retail sector, launched in 2022. The plan will be revisited in two years to assess its progress.
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