Keeping our capital working for the UK


Retail has seen some fundamental shifts over the past 15 years, including:

  • the explosion of online shopping and expectation of on-demand service and delivery
  • the ongoing decline of the local high street
  • cost-polarisation
  • the rise of destination shopping and emphasis on experience
  • the blurring of hospitality and retail
  • a shift from large outlets to convenience formats.

London retail is no exception to these trends. Consumers are adopting new technologies faster, their shopping and lifestyle patterns are different, and the ownership of infrastructure is complex. London is a laboratory, testing ground and early adopter for new trends in retail. We’re also a destination for shoppers from across the UK and around the globe.

This change is being felt by both the private and public sectors. Retailers have to invest in transforming physical infrastructure and supply chains into formats which work for modern, mobile shoppers. While the city has to deal with greater delivery traffic on the roads, conflicting planning needs and the race to build more homes for its growing population places pressure on retail space, as well as pricing many employees out.

The London First Retail Group regularly brings our members together with policymakers. Together, we’re helping to shape the Future of Retail in London, exploring the challenges and opportunities of retail change, and how business, boroughs and Business Improvement Districts can manage that change. We’re identifying some of the great work already being done locally and how that can be scaled up across the capital, plus any further policy change needed. We will use this evidence to inform our recommendations to government and City Hall, as well as feeding into the London First Skills Commission and our responses to the London Plan.

Business rates – We work with our members, Business Improvement Districts and other trade bodies to lobby for government to address the disproportionate impact of business rates revaluation on London retailers’ competitiveness. In particular, delivering a more effective transitional relief scheme on rates revaluation.

Access to talent – The effects of Brexit, particularly currency and workforce, clearly have the potential to severely disrupt the industry. London’s retail sector relies on talented, hardworking people from all over the world, who work throughout the supply chain both in London and beyond. According to research by London First and PwC around 44% of London’s entire retail and wholesale workforce are from outside the UK. London First’s key priority is ensuring business continues to access both domestic and international talent at all levels.

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