Scotland

Here we go again. The Scottish government has just launched the first in a series of papers that aim to ‘refresh’ the case for independence.

The launch was followed by a statement from the Scottish government’s constitution secretary that an independence referendum will be held in October of 2023.

So far, the UK government has shown absolutely no inclination to give permission for another referendum, raising the prospect of some kind of unilateral or ‘wildcat’ poll.

These big constitutional issues always attract controversy, and trade bodies such as SGF have to approach them carefully. Scotland is a bit of a ‘village’ and its politics can be tribal.

Depending on what you say, it’s very easy to be painted into either a pro-independence or pro-unionist corner. However, we have been here before.

During the past referendum, we managed to maintain a position of neutrality while effectively raising the concerns of our members.

Generally, retailers aren’t ideological, but they will always be concerned by anything that brings risk, increases business uncertainty and may disrupt cross-border trade.

The big issues, such as currency, which dominated the last independence debate, will undoubtedly rear their ugly heads again.

Whatever we think of independence, the new move comes at a time when retailers and consumers are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis – this is unlikely to have gone away by 2023.

Additionally, a vote in October of next year would mean the campaign would be in full swing at the same time as retailers in Scotland will have to implement what is probably the biggest thing ever to land on them. Can you guess what that is?

Read more of our expert opinion on the independent retail sector