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Government launches "bounce-back" plan for retail industry

Tom Bottomley
08 September 2020

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

The "bounce-back" plan includes measures to help “boost exports and increase British retail firms’ readiness to sell overseas.” The creation of a new ‘Consumer and Retail Export Academy’ will help businesses export via a digital learning syllabus.

Exports Minister, Graham Stuart MP, said: “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, contributing £104bn of GVA (gross value added) to the UK economy in 2019, with the value of retail sales reaching £395bn in 2019, a 3.8% increase from 2018.”

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

E-commerce will be 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 changed retail environment.

The value of retail sales made online has risen by more than 300% in the last 10 years. This trend is expected to continue as a result of coronavirus, with many UK businesses already experiencing increased sales online.

Following the DIT’s announcement for the "bounce back" plan, Helen Brocklebank, CEO of luxury brand membership group Walpole, commented: “British luxury brands support more than 160,000 highly sustainable and skilled jobs round the UK, contribute £48 billion a year to the economy and generate £4.5 billion 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 Department of International Trade 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% of British luxury goods in value terms is destined for export markets including the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East and, while 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 SME’s that form the backbone of British luxury, exporting British creativity, craftsmanship and design to the world."

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