Avoiding a Bloodbath On the UK High Street

The end of the government’s furlough scheme in October looms large for all of UK business. For retail and hospitality companies, another deadline is just as chilling: the end of the one-year “holiday” on business rates next March, the Financial Times reported in a commentary. Since rates are linked to rental values dating from 2015 — and a revaluation has just been postponed — shop chains could snap back into paying a hefty levy based on rents calculated long before Covid-19 devastated their businesses. Unless sales completely rebound before then, some warn the bankruptcies and store closures that would result could render today’s business rate holiday largely worthless. As with other sectors lobbying for support, the government cannot cave in to everything retail chains are asking for. Retailers overexpanded for years and underestimated how online shopping growth would eat away at bricks-and-mortar sales. Read more