7 In 10 Consumer Businesses Confident Of A Successful Brexit Deal

More than 70 per cent of consumer-facing businesses are confident that the Government can broker a Brexit trade deal that protects their interests, according to new research from audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.

The RSM survey of over 300 senior decision makers in the retail, hospitality and travel sectors, also revealed a high degree of optimism among respondents for the year ahead. In total, 81 per cent said they felt positive about the prospects for their business in 2020.

This optimism was highest among hotel and accommodation providers (87 per cent) and travel and tourism businesses (86 per cent). Given the recent challenges facing the high street, retailers were unsurprisingly less optimistic. Nevertheless, almost three quarters (74 per cent) said they were positive about the year ahead.

In total, two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents said they felt more positive about their business prospects following the UK general election result.

Respondents were also asked about the main risks for the year ahead. Economic factors were cited by the highest number, followed by concerns over the increase in the National Minimum Wage and the impact of high business rates.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Newman, a partner in RSM’s consumer markets group said: ‘Post-election, the mood among consumer businesses is strikingly buoyant. It’s apparent that many see the breaking of the political deadlock as a positive, with a clear majority expressing confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver a trade deal which protects their interests and maintains consumer confidence, key to spending in the sector.

‘That said, consumer businesses are also conscious of the potential economic headwinds, and acutely aware of the financial challenges they face in terms of rising staff costs and business rates.

‘As we enter the period of negotiations with the EU and the US, consumer confidence could fluctuate wildly in 2020. Other factors such as the coronavirus which have emerged since our survey was carried out could also prove challenging, especially for the travel, tourism and hotel sectors. Business leaders will need to be nimble and able to react quickly to sudden changes in consumer sentiment.’