Increasingly it seems one can hardly open a newspaper without landing upon some news flash or comment piece about the current state of retail and the negative impact that unaffordable business rates are having. It wasn't that long ago that rating barely registered in the public's list of worries.
But the numbers are worrying. Without question, the burden of taxation that falls on all ratepayers, including retailers, is unsustainably high, with the multiplier having increased year on year by inflation and a net result that far outstrips rental growth over any given period. And this real world impact is plain to see - walk down any high street and witness first hand the increasing number of closed or disappearing shops.
It's fair to say that relief packages offered by the government at each Budget have so far tinkered around the edges and have largely benefited smaller retailers. And where they are ostensibly open to all, so often they are caught by prescriptive State Aid limits. Large nationals who are feeling the pain currently fall outside the scope of most of the reliefs on offer.
Calls for more fundamental reform are getting louder and are clearly gathering momentum, such that the Treasury Select Committee recently announced a detailed review of rates and specifically their impact on business. Whilst the cynic might suggest that this is just another example in a long line of listening tours without any real appetite to shake up the system, I have feeling this inquiry will have the teeth to tackle the issue.
Watch this space...
A record 2,481 stores disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets in 2018 – 40pc more than in 2017, according to data from PwC, as retailers New Look, Mothercare and Carpetright all shut scores of stores in CVAs.