British Retail Consortium (BRC) CEO Helen Dickinson has described 2017 as “challenging, uncertain, worrying and, even occasionally, exciting” in her end of year video address to the industry.
“What a year 2017 has been. The snap general election, the enormity of Brexit unfolding, a difficult market with people’s disposable incomes being squeezed, higher inflation and slow wage growth and ongoing profound changes in the way people shop,” Dickinson said.
Looking forward to 2018 she said the trade organisation would be focused on three key themes: Brexit; restoring public trust in retailers when it comes to matters such as ethical treatment of workers and a sustainable supply chain; and data and digital challenges.
“Brexit is going to provider an even bolder backdrop next year. We need clarity about what the transition and the future will look like and more and more retailers will be considering what it means for their company and their supply chains. Our work on tariffs, on customs and on people is informing and influencing the government as they move on to those negotiations,” Dickinson said, pointing out that the recent move to advance the Brexit negotiations on to trade was “a really important step forward”.
Describing retailers as “resilient”, Dickinson predicted more uncertainty and challenges for 2018 but pledged the BRC would continue to work in the interests of the nation’s retailers. “If this year has taught us anything it’s that change and uncertainty may be the only certainty,” she said.