Ah Brexit… for a few weeks there over the Summer it didn’t seem to matter so much did it? I had almost forgotten all about it. However, Boris has other ideas and in proroguing Parliament has whacked not only Brexit back at the top of the agenda, but a likely no deal Brexit back at the top of the agenda.
Without getting in the politics of the decision, what retailers now need to focus on is preparing for a no deal and what that might mean. As we outline in our Special Report, sales, peak and customer rights are all likely to suffer – the first two with almost instant effect potentially on 1 November.
There is still the chance that no deal won’t come to pass, but retailers – and their suppliers, contractors, logistics companies – all have to be ready.
How do you plan for chaos? Well, you can’t, but there are some key things that retailers needs to focus on.
Firstly, there are likely to be many changes around how imports and exports work, not least if you are sending large orders to the EU you will need a carrier and you will need an EORI Number. If you already have an EORI number that starts with GB, you can continue to use it. It will be 12 digits long. If you’re registered for VAT it will include your VAT registration number.
If you’ll be dealing with EU customs then you’ll need an EU EORI number. Get this from the customs authority in the EU country you first conduct trade with or that you request a customs decision from.
For more information on exporting if there is no deal, see here.
If you import from the EU, you will again need a GB EORI number as with exporting. More trickily, you must tell customs about (‘declare’) any other goods when you arrive at the UK border, as well as anything that’s banned or restricted in the UK. If you owe any duty or tax, you’ll usually have to pay it immediately.
This is likely to be what starts to add costs and time to many manufacturers and could well impact retail goods – either because they are imported or the raw materials are. If you are already importing from outside the EU then its business as usual.
For more information on importing if there is no deal, see here.
Those are the most immediate impacts, but as our report shows, you may need to stockpile materials or goods – and this too may add to the cost of Brexit prep. Back in February, many major retailers started stockpiling for the 29 March deadline – that came and went and many had large write downs. The same may happen again, so be prepared.
The other impact of Brexit is going to centre from now until who knows when on consumer confidence – and the resultant drop in spending associated with it. Since the Parliamentary suspension was announced and the Brexit fretting has been turned up to 11, shoppers are likely to now be ever more cautious than ever. Be prepared for a drop off in sales and footfall.
It seems churlish to end on such a downer, so let’s see what rays of hope there might be. Soon we will know if we are looking at no deal or not – and any clarity is likely to at least make it easier to plan. Let’s see what happens next… this won’t be the last time we look at Brexit, that’s for sure.