“It’s understandable that the Frasers Group has taken another swipe at business rates,” comments Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell. “Mike Ashley’s retail empire has a lot of skin in the game.
“It’s never disclosed exactly how much rates relief it’s received from the government during the pandemic but with 992 UK stores it must be sizeable.
“Like many retailers its clear Frasers had hoped the Chancellor would use the budget to finally address the much-discussed inequalities between online and bricks and mortar stores, but once again that can was kicked down the road.
“Certainly the group’s warning today that the rates support available from July is “near worthless” for large retailers and makes it “nearly impossible” for the business to snap up those huge empty Debenhams stores will be a blow for investors in high street property.
“But ultimately the future of our high streets will be decided by the consumer. Will they rush back to the shops once restrictions are lifted or has the shift to online become too ingrained?”