Commercial Property Advisors (CPA), business rates consultants, has long campaigned for a digital sales tax, to help even out the relative costs of traditional high street retail, and offline sales operators, like Amazon.
While Jeff Bezos flies off into space, on the profits of a pandemic premium, bricks and mortar businesses have been forced into lockdowns, and restricted conditions for a tentative re-opening.
Although there is some evidence that customers are returning to the high street, CPA does not believe a return to pre-pandemic footfall will be easily achieved. Hence, it has called for the revenue from a new digital sales tax to be ploughed into the rejuvenation of the high street. Otherwise, the high street risks becoming merely a showcase for customers to browse, before making their purchases online.
"For years", says David Tanswell, Managing Director of CPA, "various governments have been obsessing over how much money to extract from traditional retail, in the form of business rates. They overlook the fact that the golden eggs of this particular goose may not always be laid if the goose itself falls sick."
CPA is committed to putting new vigour into the high street' by challenging the rates bills of its diverse range of clients nationally, and also by reminding trade consortia and government that the tax burden should be shared by online retailers, a vital step if our traditional shops, large or small, national or local, are not to perish. Their survival is not compulsory, and help is needed right now.