The Spending review brought some sighs of relief but uncertainty still remains

Chancellor George Osborne's barrage of spending cuts has sparked varied reactions among the retail community and its partners.

Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and HMRC plus many more departments will see their budgets slashed as the government seeks to recoup £81bn over the next four years, with almost 500,000 public sector jobs expected to be lost as a result.

Many retailers fear that the cuts will knock the wind back out of consumer spending.

Independent retailer Des Barr of Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Paisley, Renfrewshire, said the jobs cull would have far-reaching consequences. "We will all know someone who will lose as a result of these cuts and spending in-store will be hit. It will be particularly noticeable in my store, which is on a busy commuter route for public sector workers.

Opinion: Your Views
Cuts are going to bring change and uncertainty and will impact on our sector. We have to be concerned about the implications of cuts to the resources of police and customs officials faced with a growing problem of crime and illegal trade."
Shane Brennan, ACS public affairs director.
 
"As we understand it, the review will not impact on HMRC's evasion and frontline capabilities. In fact, we believe funding will continue to be available to crack down on illicit trade, a major source of lost revenue to government."
Christopher Ogden, Tobacco Manufacturers Association chief executive
 
"Consumer confidence is already down, and following this review it is unlikely to recover quickly."
John Hannet, USDAW general secretary
"With fewer people going to work I will see less passing trade. Customer loyalty will become crucial; we'll have to look after them better than ever," he added.

Jenny Jackson, who owns a post office and convenience store in Toll Barr, near Doncaster, said that benefit cuts were also likely to hit her store. "This is a former mining town and lots of our customers are on benefits. With less money in their purses it stands to reason that we could see a fall in sales."

However, like many other retailers Jenny can also see an upside. "With money tight shoppers are more likely to spend little and often, and small stores could benefit from this. The role of promotions and pricemarked packs will become even more pertinent as a result," she added.

Osborne hoped to allay fears of a rise in crime due to a 4% cut in police budgets by pledging that money would be clawed back from bureaucratic cuts rather than a reduction in the number of officers on the street. However, retail groups and trade bodies remain sceptical.

And once they got over the shock of the 15% planned reduction in HMRC budgets, wholesalers and manufacturers applauded the news that more than £900m would be ploughed into tackling tax avoidance and fraud. A particular focus will be placed on the illicit alcohol and tobacco trades.

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