The survey found that 76 percent of retailers reported that they expected their sales to improve in 2015 compared with 2014, with 67 percent stating that they expected to increase investment levels. While 78 percent added that they would be more likely to employ more staff this year than last year.
When asked to list their top concerns for the year ahead, 68 percent responded that weak consumer demand worried them most, followed by the continuing pressure of business rates (53 percent) and weakness in the economy (47 percent). However, when asked what changes the Government could bring forward to make the UK a better place to do business, 74 percent suggested a fundamental reform of business rates.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "It’s great to see British retailers optimistic about the coming twelve months. After a number of years battling against strong economic headwinds and shaky consumer confidence, it seems as though retailers are set for some cheer in 2015.
“However, given the tentative nature of the recovery in consumer confidence it’s natural that retailers are cautious about the longevity of the upswing we’ve seen recently. It’s also no surprise that the fundamental reform of business rates has come out as top priority for government action. It is an outdated and punitive tax.”
Dickinson added: ‘’We’re delighted that the Government has decided to back British retailing by committing to review the business rates system and we look forward to working with Government during the course of the review. As the figures from our survey show, the retail industry will be doing its part to drive growth in 2015 – by investing and creating jobs – but these efforts will be hampered if serious solutions to the burden of business rates are not found."
The BRC's survey was conducted in November and accounted for around 18 percent of the retail industry by value.