Superdry’s chief executive has called for a VAT cut and further business rates relief to support shopkeepers after another month of stores closures.
Julian Dunkerton said a 5pc VAT reduction in December, as firms come out of the second lockdown, would help offset some of the losses during the crucial festive season when most retailers make a big chunk of their profits.
“The Treasury needs to come up with a goodwill gesture to the public and retailer in the run-up to Christmas,” the co-founder of the global fashion brand told The Telegraph.
“They did a good job with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, so there needs to be some kind of action to assist retailers.”
Hundreds of thousands of so-called non-essential shops were forced to shut during the first lockdown for months, and again this month.
Although Superdry was less affected because it has robust sales online, Mr Dunkerton stressed it would be a disaster for smaller, independent shops if they “lost December”, and shops should reopen on Dec 3. “Amazon mops up the benefits otherwise.”
However, he cautioned against handing a further business rate cut to grocers and other food chains that have remained open during lockdowns and saved almost £2bn from the high street-wide tax break. The rates relief is due to expire at the end of March.
“Targeted help is the right thing to do,” Mr Dunkerton said, and any extension should not apply to supermarkets or food retailers.
About £1 In every £6 of rates relief in England went to the Big Four chains, according to property firm Altus, to the tune of £585m for Tesco and £498m for Sainsbury’s.
The chains have all paid hundreds of millions in dividends at the same time, drawing criticism from peers and some industry observers.
Robert Hayton, head of property tax at Altus, said: “Some parts of the retail sector have managed to thrive during the pandemic and the rates holiday has been the icing on an already very sweet cake. Did, with hindsight, the Big Four need the relief made available?”