One of ACS’ ongoing political activities is the organisation of store visits with MPs so that they can hear from retailers in their constituency about the pressures facing their business as well as the developments in their store and engagement with their communities. During these visits (of which we’ve held more than 30 so far this year), investment is a topic that comes up almost every time.
With the cost of lending being comparatively low in recent years, you might expect that retailers can just go to the bank to secure loans for new investments. Our research suggests that this isn’t the case, with just 7% of retailers going to the bank for funding, while over two-thirds fund their investments from their own reserves, and about one in seven rely on funding from suppliers.
This highlights a wider issue that retailers have with banks that goes beyond just access to finance. We hear about the cost of doing business with a bank increasing, with charges for banking cash going up, charges for handling debit and credit card payments still too high, and many experiencing exorbitant fees and interest rates when using overdraft facilities.
Of course, retailers’ issues with banking can’t be taken in isolation from other big challenges such as hikes in National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates, and auto-enrolment pensions. We want to hear from you so that we can present a compelling picture to government and press for more support for retailers. What issues do you face when dealing with your banks, what does a good banking relationship look like, and what would help to improve this for your business?