OPINION: Prepare for a General Election –Harj Dhasee, Mickleton Village Stores, Gloucestershire

"We’re in for a change of government, which could have a big impact on business as a whole."

Labour leader Keir Starmer

There are lots of big events happening in 2024, but, most importantly, we’re going into an election year. With the cost-of-living crisis still alive and active, we’re going to get lots of promises from both sides in the run-up to the election.

Things like that really affect how people vote. It’s looking like Labour are going to win it, or there might be a hung parliament. Either way, we’re in for a change of government, which could have a big impact on business as a whole. If that happens, I think there will be a shock in the markets and there will be more inflation.

There’s not much belief in the economy at the moment, so it’s important to stay close to any economic changes. Inflation is coming down and interest rates might follow, but I think food inflation is here to stay and those prices won’t be going back down.

There’s also a chance there could be a recession after the election. Retailers should prepare themselves for upheaval, but they shouldn’t be too disheartened by bad news. Convenience stores generally do well in recessions, so long as they market themselves right.

Read more: Tory party conference: What it means for your store

People will be going out into the on-trade less and the shopping frequency will change – as it’s already changing – to small and daily shops rather than big weekly ones, and that helps us.

It’s about creating an honest perception of value. I think the multiples’ perception of value is decreasing and will continue to decrease, so for retailers it’s about having the right products at the right prices and running the right promotions.

Another thing retailers can do to improve their customers’ perceptions of them is by understanding and knowing their place in the market, and then leaning into it. Partnering with the right symbol group for your customers will be very important. Over the next 24 months, retailers are going to need the support of strong brands and good partners. For me, having Morrisons above the door is very important.

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