Chairman of John Lewis, Dame Sharon White has suggested that chancellor Richi Sunak to review the business rates system and replace this with a new land tax to level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retail.
(Dame Sharon White - Chairman of John Lewis) - The times - Image
Ms white stated that a significant reform should be considered a "much more stable and enduring way to tax" as bricks-and-mortar retailers reel from the impact of the pandemic and subsequent shift by consumers to online spending, according to The Telegraph.
Bricks and mortar stores have suffered exponentially due to the pandemic trying to stay afloat and keep their doors open. Online has increased during the pandemic due to the change in consumer behaviour. However, as lockdown are easing, we have seen retail sales rise sharply in April due to the restrictions and the reopening of all non-essential stores.
However, all categories in online sales have declined as physical stores reopened. According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, Online sales have decreased to 30%, down from 34.7% in March 2021.
Ms White makes a valid point regarding Online and Bricks and mortar when speaking to, The Telegraph stating, "These things are so blended. The idea that somehow there are bricks and mortar retailers and they are separate from digital is just fiction."
Ms Whites opinion demonstrates that both online and bricks and mortar are crucial for the retail landscape and the changes in consumer behaviour. Supporting businesses with business rates or reform will positively impact reviving the high street locally and nationally and move away from shops being empty. This would reinforce consumer confidence, employment, and brand diversity.