05/05/2010

Gordons retail update – General Election comment

Thursday, May 6 is nearly here and we have the closest general election race for many years. With the possibility of a hung parliament coming into the reckoning for the first time since 1974 it is worthwhile considering how this could affect the retail industry.

It is often said that politicians ignore the retail sector and evidence of Government support for the industry is certainly difficult to find. Retailers who have come through the recession have done so largely as a result of self help. So would a hung parliament be such a bad thing?

If proposals such as the one per cent rise in National Insurance never get off the ground many will breathe a sigh of relief, but a hung parliament raises the prospect of a period of uncertainty which will undoubtedly dent consumer confidence.

A stable economy is key to consumer confidence as are people feeling secure in their jobs. However, conversely, opinion polls seem to be signalling the public’s appetite for a change in the electoral and political system by their support for the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. We do not have long to wait to see if this appetite is reflected in the ballot box.

Whatever happens on May 6, the parties need to understand that confident consumers will lead the recovery and whoever is in charge must implement policies which will invigorate them and underpin sustained economic growth.

Retailers have shown themselves capable of swiftly adapting to their customers needs and requirements in the recession and perhaps politicians of all parties could take on board the need to “listen to your customers.” More of the same politics is clearly not what people want but they do understand the need for a reduction in the deficit and spending cuts. Certainty about achieving this is what is needed after the election whether one party or a coalition is in charge.