A new survey has revealed that high street sales have fallen for the fifth consecutive month.
According to data released by advisory firm BDO, high street retailers have faced the worst first half of trading in ten years.
“The bleak and crippling start to the year shows no sign of abating, with deep discounting set to eat into [profit] margins that are already being stretched paper-thin by poor sales and rising costs, including the much-discussed issue of unfair business rates on high street retailers,” said Sophie Michael, BDO’s head of retail and wholesale.
In June, the UK’s bricks and mortar retailers saw sales fall by 1.7 percent year-on-year in June.
The high street is facing a troubled time as many established retailers including House of Fraser, New Look, Marks & Spencer (LON: MKS) and Carpetright (LON: CPR) are struggling amid the rise of online shopping, forcing them to close dozens of stores.
MPs and business leaders are calling on the government to take action. Philip Hammond said the government had carried out a review on 2016’s business rates.
“Respondents to the review agreed that property based taxes were easy to collect, difficult to avoid, relatively stable compared to other taxes and had a clear link to local authority spending,” he said.
In reference to competition from digital retailers including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), he said: “I have been clear that we need to find a better way of taxing the digital economy and we are making progress on this issue.”
Business leaders have said tax on online retailers unfairly discriminate against bricks and mortar stores.
Nicky Morgan, who chairs parliament’s Treasury committee, said: “It’s clear that many bricks and mortar stores are struggling to remain competitive against online retailers, with the chancellor admitting that business rates can represent a high fixed cost for some businesses.”