Alan Hawkins, chief executive officer of bira (British Independent Retailers Association), has commented on the Autumn Statement.
He said: “We were not expecting much from the Autumn Statement and that is exactly what transpired, which is not surprising given the state of public finances.
“Helping the economy through Brexit, I suppose, has to be a welcome sign that the government is realising that support is needed.
“Some of the specific detail will undoubtedly add cost to retailers. For example, the increase in the National Living Wage to £7.50 in April. Whilst this is at the lower end of expectation, it is still a significant increase.
“Insurance thresholds have been standardised upwards, which could lead to up to £7.18 a year per employee for the employer.
“Insurance premium tax is, of course, increasing from 10% to 12%, which is another cost on business premiums that employers will have to fund.
“Overall, therefore, there is not enough money around to create any expectation that next year will be any easier than this year. With price increases predicted by most commentators as a result of Brexit, consumer spending will continue to be the art of retail.”
Bira chief executive offer Alan Hawkins