BIRA comments on rising interest rates

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) has called the interest rate rise and footfall dip a ‘double blow’.

BIRA, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, expressed its concerns regarding the Bank of England’s decision to raise the interest rate to 5.25% from 5%, marking the 14th consecutive hike. This development comes amid reports of declining footfall in July, the first drop in 14 years, attributed to the UK experiencing one of the wettest months on record. Overall footfall was down by 0.3%, a significant impact on the retail sector since July 2009.

The adverse weather conditions have had a notable impact on consumer behaviour, with many people opting to stay indoors instead of heading out to the shops.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of BIRA, said: “The weather in July has certainly had an impact on footfall, making it a challenging month for independent retailers. However, the issue of rising interest rates cannot be ignored and shouldn’t be masked.

“Today has been a double blow for the high street. Footfall in July was really disappointing. It is easy to assume it was the weather, and the rain has not helped, but we also have to see a decline in consumer confidence and consumer expenditure. Today’s interest rate announcement is not a surprise, and it will not be a surprise if it reduces spending even more. Inflation is falling, and that is due to a reduction in energy costs, not interest rate rises. The Bank of England is using a blunt instrument based on a recent history of poor forecasting,” he added.

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