ACS Blog

Using Data Effectively

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about data – how we use and abuse it and how businesses in our sector should deal with it.  A few things have caused me to mull on this topic.

Firstly, in the wake of the general election various commentators have attacked the pollsters for failing to predict the result.  My view is that the pollsters provide one data source – it’s for the commentators to interpret this and turn it into knowledge or a forecast.  It there was a failure in the pre-election media debate, the pollsters are only responsible for a small part of it.

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What A Conservative Government Could Mean for Retailers

Well that was a surprise wasn’t it?  I had predicted that the Conservatives would get most votes, but like everyone else who had an opinion on the election – including Conservative strategists and pollsters – I didn’t expect to see a majority Tory government.  So what does this mean for our sector?

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The Importance of Getting Local MPs into Your Store

Today I watched the last Prime Minister’s Questions of this Parliament, another milestone to the General Election on 7 May.  There has been a campaign running for months if not years now, but the impending poll brings into focus the opportunities to engage in the campaign as a local business.

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Can Businesses Afford to Give Their Staff a Pay Rise?

David Cameron has today urged businesses to give their staff a pay rise.  Clearly the Government’s economic analysis is that with inflation low, increasing wages would give further fuel to UK plc’s growth at little risk.

That macroeconomic analysis may be correct, but I have to start my response by looking at the microeconomic picture – the costs and income that dictate the way that businesses are run.  There are two problems for our sector with a strategy based on a hike in wages, and specifically in the National Minimum Wage.

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Review of the Year 2014

So I guess this would be a good time for me to write a review of the year.  I’m never that keen on such musings, largely because the political calendar we work to doesn’t run from January to December, and because I feel very little sense of anything concluding as we approach Christmas.  So instead of a summary of the last twelve months, here’s an assessment of where we are on some of the key policy issues affecting our sector.

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What Next for Rates Reform?

Announcing business rates reform was the easy bit. Now the Chancellor has to work out what changes to this £26bn tax revenue stream will be fairer, pro-growth, fiscally responsible and popular.

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Tackling Duty Fraud using Licensing Law

Two alcohol policy issues close to ACS’ heart are duty fraud and licensing law, and I think these are more closely linked than you might think.  Once in a while, we hear that alcohol harm is linked to the growth in the number of off licences, with responsible and irresponsible retailers lumped in together when their impact on the areas where they trade could not be more different.

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Alternatives to Smoking

ACS tends not to back certain products over others, or to act as a defender of product categories. On issues like alcohol and tobacco legislation, we focus on the retail impact of proposed changes, and try to make selling these products responsibly as straightforward and unburdensome as possible.

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Derelict Pubs or Great Local Shops?

We hear from CAMRA this morning that 31 pubs are closing each week. I’ll start and finish this blog with a personal observation you may wish to dismiss as just that.

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