The British Retail Consortium has released a statement following the result of the EU Referendum.
“Now that a decision has been made to leave, it is important the Government moves quickly to explain the process of disengagement from the EU,” the statement reads. “Without clarity, retailers, other businesses and hence the economy will suffer from a prolonged period of uncertainty.
“We are already seeing the commencement of a period of considerable volatility as financial markets react to any emerging information that might indicate how the new relationship to the EU might be shaped. Retailers should be prepared for the possibility of significant swings, particularly in the exchange rate and consumer confidence.”
It continues: “In order to keep prices down and to deliver the best possible choice for consumers, retailers’ top priority in the short term will be to ensure the continued ease and minimum additional costs of importing EU goods into the UK for sale to customers. A prolonged fall in the value of the pound will impact import costs and ultimately consumer prices, but this will take time to feed through. In its exit negotiations the Government should aim to ensure that the trade benefits of the Single Market (i.e. the absence of customs duties) are replicated in the UK’s new relationship with the EU.”
The statement adds: “However, it is important for us all to remember that, even if the government serves notice to leave the EU tomorrow, the process of leaving the EU will take a couple of years, during which time the UK remains a member and EU rules over free movement will continue to apply. Retailers will continue to focus on serving and delivering for their customers day in, day out in a highly competitive market as they do today.
“In addition to goods traded with the EU, the Government will need to define the rules that will apply to goods traded with other countries. The BRC stands ready to advise them on this. In the slightly longer term, it is important for the Government to explain how it will handle legislation that was previously the responsibility of the EU. This is likely to be a time-consuming and resource intensive process affecting a wide range of stakeholders. We are sure the Government will put in place a clear and effective process for consulting interested parties as it reviews these regulations. The British public has opted to leave the EU and it is now up to the Government in conjunction with our EU neighbours to make the most of that decision.”
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented: “Keeping the cost of goods down for consumers and providing certainty for businesses must be at the heart of the Government’s plans for life outside of the EU.”