DECEMBER INSIGHTS BY CHRIS TURNER


This final Insight of the year comes at the end of a very ‘long’ year indeed. A year of three prime ministers and four chancellors, two extraordinary budgets and ending with an ongoing financial crisis. If there was a time for businesses to come together and work cooperatively this is absolutely it! Thus, the 333 BIDs across the British Isles continue to support their business communities and over the last 12 months it is clear that BIDs continue to be popular and successful.

It has been a busy and complex year for BID Ballots, with 70 BIDs going to successful ballot in the past 12 months. This includes 9 new BIDs, and two new accommodation BIDs. Despite mail strikes and the financial crisis, turnout has remained at an average of 40%, while votes by number and RV have been at 78.7% and 84.3% respectively. We still have 56 BIDs in the development stage, waiting to go to ballot in the next year or so. Five BIDs failed at ballot in the past twelve months, by a mixture of number and rateable value.

This last month has seen successful ballots in Manchester Accommodation BID, St Austell BID, Oban BID, Baker Street Quarter Partnership, Hemel Hempstead BID, Cathedral Quarter Derby BID, Chelmsford BID, Liverpool Accommodation BID, Longhill & Sandgate BID, Manchester, and New Addington. Unfortunately, Penrith Town Centre BID was unsuccessful.

We spoke in last month’s Insight about the impact of the latest Business Rate review, and the impact on many BIDs across the country is now becoming clearer. We are all now able to check with our local authorities on the impact of the latest review. We know that business rates are one of the major sources of government revenue from businesses, and the latest review has increased the rateable values of businesses across England and Wales by 7.1%. However, because BIDs tend to be in areas of high retail, it is the overall 2.5% reduction in retail rateable value that has had the major impact on BIDs. This impact has been very varied regionally, with the greatest changes in the east and southeast, and some very major reductions in places.

For some BIDs we know that this is already reducing BID levies by up to £140k a year and for many it is around 10% of levy income; we will find out more as we collect the data. But BIDs using this new ratings list are having to plan fast to review levels of service and staff. It is for these reasons that reserves, and contingencies are so vital, and for many of us there will need to be a greater focus on increased external income generation, greater efficiencies and closer relationships with local authorities on levy collection and enforcement. Many BIDs still remain tied in to the current 2017 lists, giving them time to review budgets and services, but all will be moving onto the new 2023 lists as they come to ballot. We also have to plan for the proposed three yearly cycle, with a new list again in 2026. This will clearly involve reviews of boundaries, thresholds and levy percentages.

The full extent of changes to Britain's High Streets after two years of Covid lockdowns and trading restrictions is revealed in data from Ordnance Survey. Overall, there were 9,300 fewer retail outlets in March 2022 than March 2020, as shoppers switched to online stores. The findings illustrate the changing face of the British High Street from a place to buy things to a place to do stuff - like get your nails done and meet friends for a coffee or a cocktail. Beauty salons and tattoo parlours have prospered on High Streets while the number of banks and department stores has fallen. Places to eat and drink have also increased - despite social distancing. The figures are revealed by BBC analysis of 1.5 million records contained in the Ordnance Survey's "Points of Interest" mapping data, a comprehensive quarterly survey of businesses, facilities and services operating in England, Scotland and Wales. To find out how the High Streets and shopping areas have changed since the beginning of the pandemic the link here allows postcode searching. Most certainly worth a look to cross check your own BID data.

After the Golden quarter the future for retail looks sadly rather grim, and we in BIDs are going to have to work hard to help many of our levy payers. The Retail Think Tank, reckons that the high street could face a “flurry of business failures” in the new year, as a lacklustre Christmas sales period is leaving retailers low on the funds needed to cope when households tighten their belts after the festive season. “We can expect more consolidation and high street casualties as we head into the new year. It will be yet another tough year for retail and a case of survival of the fittest,” said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG. In its monthly report, the Retail Think Tank, a partnership between KPMG and Ipsos, forecast the opening quarter of 2023 would be the most challenging of the year ahead, but said there would be winners and losers with some retailers – such as discount chains – likely to fare better than others. The think-tank’s predictions come after the volume of retail sales unexpectedly fell in November as Black Friday discount deals and football’s World Cup failed to boost spending, with the cost of living crisis forcing households to cut budgets. “Rising inflation, rising costs and flattened sales all took their toll on the health of the sector,” Martin said. The amount spent on retail in Great Britain dropped by 0.4% in November, against a forecast of a 0.3% rise by industry analysts, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Online retailers suffered a 2.8% fall in the amount sold as shoppers steered clear of Black Friday offers to focus on stocking up early on food and alcohol to spread out the cost of Christmas.

British BIDs continues its range of training and development courses throughout next year, with as ever some new courses planned for the portfolio. Issues such as new business plans, new boundaries, and new BID arrangements are discussed and deliberated in our one-day courses, and our usual Certificate in BID Management [CiBM] and Diploma in BID Leadership [DiBL] courses allow greater time and analysis to help solve problems. Do please join us by signing up here www.britishbids.info or speaking to Shayni Langhelt shayni.langhelt@britishbids.info

And do please have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs

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