The impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union is a source of concern in many sectors of British industry – and none more so than in the retail sector.
Last week saw the publication of the BRC’s report on the impact of Brexit for consumers. It claims that 6% of the retail workforce in the UK are EU migrants. The knock on effect of uncertainty over their futures in the UK, and the potential reduction in skills, could see an increase in costs for consumers.
This week the Prime Minister has sought to re-assure EU migrants in the UK with the clearest indication to date that they will be entitled to remain here post-Brexit. However, with nothing yet set in stone – and no prospect of legislation regarding the immigration status of EU workers until next year at the earliest – employers are still having to consider how their businesses are structured. It’s a good idea to put contingency plans in place to deal with the prospect of a proportion of their workforce no longer being available for work.
British shoppers will face higher prices unless EU nationals can work freely in the UK after Brexit, the country’s retail trade body has warned. In a report, the British Retail Consortium said ending free movement for EU nationals could raise retailers’ wage bills. And although EU nationals make up just 6 per cent of the British retail workforce, losing access to such staff could exacerbate what has become a growing challenge for retailers to keep their costs down after the government raised the national minimum wage, the BRC’s report said. “Greater competition for workers as a result of inadequate provisions following Brexit would only add to that growing employment bill,” the report added.