Since the country voted to leave the EU in June 2016, Brexit has continued to have a significant impact on the UK’s economic activity. GDP forecasts are frequently downgraded, while a growing number of firms such as Goldman Sachs and Unilever are considering, or have begun, shifting operations out of the UK, and the nation has lost its appeal among many EU workers.

              Looking ahead, GDP predictions for 2019 vary, with most expecting growth to be modest at around 1.4%, but analysts say this is on the strength of the global economy. The government, which has run a controversial austerity programme since 2010, has pledged to cut corporation tax from 20% to 17% by 2020.

              Brexit continues to dominate the agenda and uncertainty around its impact on the sector lingers in the air as the UK prepares to leave the EU in March 2019.

              The retail outlook

              Consumers are being squeezed by rising inflation – which hit a six-month high of 2.7% in August – while wage growth remains sluggish.

              This has had a knock-on effect on the retail industry, which has suffered a tough year. Despite consumers spending £366bn in shops and online in 2017, a rise of 4.6% on the previous year, the country has witnessed a huge number of casualties on the high street with Maplin, Toys R Us and Poundworld among those falling into administration.

              The UK recorded 5,855 store closures in 2017, according to the Local Data Company.

              Shopping budgets remain tight and, given the headwinds of business rates, changes in consumer spending and the uncertainty around Brexit, high levels of pessimism surround the retail industry.

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              Hilary Ross

              • Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality // Executive Partner London

              Ed Meikle

              • Partner // Head of Retail Group

              Dominic Watkins

              • Partner // Head of Food Group