This week (8-11 October) saw the annual Labour Party conference held in Liverpool as the party vies to end the 12-year reign of the Conservative government.

Key Labour figures such as Angela Rayner and Yvette Cooper explained the party’s proposals on key areas affecting the UK retail industry, which the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has evaluated.

The UK retail market size was £386.3bn ($475.1bn) in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 2% during 2022-2027. Not only is retail economically sizeable, but it also stands as a key industry through which political parties can garner public support.

BRC approves Labour’s stand on UK retail crime

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pledged that under Labour the ‘epidemic’ of shoplifting would be investigated, regardless of size.

Cooper also discussed introducing two-year jail sentences for assaulting shop workers, aided by an introduction of 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs to patrol the streets.

This has received support from BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, who commented: “We need a standalone offence to improve the visibility of violence against shop workers. At a cost of almost £1bn a year, we must also address the scourge of retail theft. Yvette Cooper has clearly heard the concerns of the industry and we welcome her pledge to tackle all shoplifting.”

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Cooper’s speech also garnered support from the Association of Convenience Stores, with chief executive James Lowman stating: “Effective penalties are a vital part of tackling retail crime and something we have long campaigned for.”

Labour’s employment policies

At the Labour Party Conference, Angela Rayner, shadow deputy Prime Minister and Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, covered employment policies a Labour government would introduce if it wins the next general election scheduled for 2025.

The New Deal for Working People would include:

  • Introducing a ‘genuine living wage’ – change the Low Pay Commission’s remit so the minimum wage ‘takes into account the real cost of living’.
  • Banning the use of zero-hour contracts.
  • Ending fire and rehire practices.
  • Strengthening sick pay.
  • Offering basic employment rights from day one.
  • Making work more family-friendly.
  • Tackling sexual harassment.
  • Boosting collective bargaining to improve worker’s pay, terms and conditions.
  • Going ‘further and faster’ to end the gender pay gap.

The BRC has historically supported workers rights in the retail industry and has reviewed Labour’s New Deal for its members.