Trade Organisations

BRC urges greater urgency for single online retail market

The annual event, which attracts more than 150 key figures from UK retailing, will consider how the sector is responding to the latest developments in technology and embracing changes in consumer habits.

The prime minister David Cameron and other EU leaders have spoken publicly about the economic importance of a digital single market but progress in Europe has come under criticism for being to slow.

The BRC said in a statement it “wants the Government to maintain the pressure on the EU to overcome problems” such as different consumer rights rules and incompatible payment systems.

The body also said the UK has the highest online spends per capita in Europe. “Establishing a single market for online trading would give British businesses easier access to millions more consumers across Europe. European Commission figures estimate that establishing a true digital single market could raise the EU’s income overall by four per cent,” the BRC said in a statement. 

Director general of the BRC, Stephen Robertson, said: “Retail is something the UK excels at and we’re already global leaders online. The Government has rightly identified increasing exports as part of its strategy for growth. Helping British retailers reach new and growing markets overseas is an obvious next step and an effective single digital market is key to doing that.

“There is a multitude of hurdles which any company wanting to trade in Europe must overcome, not least 27 different sets of consumer rights legislation, tax and legal regimes. The EU machinery is making gradual progress on some key areas but there needs to be a greater sense of urgency.

“Opening up Europe’s digital market would be a win-win situation. Consumers across the continent would benefit from the extra competition, which we know encourages innovation and helps bring prices down.

“The UK’s world-leading retailers would be well-placed to achieve even greater success. We need to see pressure from retailers and the UK Government resulting in a faster rate of change in Brussels.”

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