As we reach General Election day, a third (32%) of UK retailers have said that Brexit remains their biggest concern for the 12 months ahead. When asked why, difficulties remaining competitive in their market was the main reason given, closely followed by unexpected costs to their business.
Perhaps surprisingly, the consequence of the General Election was only cited by 8% of retailers as their leading concern.
The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of npower Business Solutions, also identified that, when looking at the energy trilemma – affordability, sustainability and security – UK retailers prioritise cost as their lead concern. In fact, well over half (58%) said more affordable energy was the most important element of the three, compared to 17% for a move to a low carbon economy and 13% for enhanced energy security.
It is therefore no surprise that when asked what they would like the incoming Government to prioritise when it comes to energy policy, over a third (37%) said decreasing business energy costs.
But while cost is clearly a factor, supporting more renewable energy over other sources of generation was also important for a third (33%) of retailers, as was meeting the UK’s climate commitments for 26%.
There was also interest in seeing new approaches to energy management on the new government’s agenda. Some 16% said that increasing the value and/or opportunities for being flexible around consumption should be prioritised. This includes demand side response initiatives, where customers are incentivised financially to lower electricity use at peak times.
“With Brexit still on the horizon, it is expected that businesses, and in particular those in the retail sector, are looking to the government for energy policy that supports their competitive position in the UK and Europe,” says David Reed, Head of npower Business Solutions.
“Lower business energy costs mean one less thing to worry about in our current environment. That’s why our specialists at Energy HQ are supporting large businesses to reduce their energy spend through energy efficiency and behavioural change, as well as smarter flexible energy purchasing strategies and use, for example via demand side response initiatives and energy storage.”