Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
With a revaluation due in 2017, commercial property business rates need to be on your agenda.
We love shopping on the high street. Springfords are good to go when it comes to supporting local businesses, and according to a recent report by the retail research agency Conlumino, we’re not alone. Scotland is one of four areas in the UK where potential for high street growth is recorded. That means more shops to choose from, and more new businesses opening, and expanding.
That optimistic report of retail expansion is, however, tempered by less promising news. Every silver lining has a cloud and, in this case, that gloomy overcast comes from the Scottish Grocers Federation and the Associations of Convenience Stores. Their joint Local Shop Report shows a contraction in high street outlets across the country in the traditional sector of convenience retailing. That’s corner shops by any other name, although hardly any are on corners these days.
Despite the shift from big weekly to a more frequent ‘little and often’ in shopping habits, there’s been a reduction of around ten percent, or about four hundred convenience stores in Scotland. Both those representative bodies lay the blame for that contraction at the door of increased business costs, with rates among the top of the offenders’ list.
It’s true that there will always be costs associated with doing business, and predicting them is always prudent, before the bills start coming in. For those with commercial premises, situated on the high street or not, one of the biggest bills is always going to be business rates. The shock of the demand, making a dent in the floor as it crashes through the letterbox, is never going to be pleasant.
In 2017, all commercial properties in Scotland (including the corner shops) will be subject to the latest five yearly review. We’d have written Quinquennial, but that would just be showing off.
The assessors will vary out valuation reviews sooner rather than later in 2017. If you’re among the vast majority that recoil in pain at the prodding of the assessors, there is a respite. Make sure you have 16 September 2017 in your diary - that’s the very last day for logging an appeal over revaluation.
Appeals were something to which the Spanish Inquisition were partial. Appellants were burned at the stake. Survivors were deemed to be heretics in league with the devil, and promptly drowned instead. As we understand it though, the appeals tribunals aren’t yet authorised to fatally fry or demonically dunk anyone with the heretical temerity to challenge their revaluation. You’re not actually taking your life in your hands by doing so.
As with every other aspect of trading, cost control is a vital part of your business plan. So, if you value your own business, scrutinise your revaluation and decide if you wish to proceed with an appeal. And next time you’re shopping locally, advise the shop owners to do the same so we can enjoy the high street at our convenience for 2017 and beyond.