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PUBLISHED ON: 19/04/2023

Commercial finance for retail businesses

Retail makes a significant contribution to economic growth in the UK and is a key employer. From discounter supermarkets to luxury shopping experiences the potential for continued growth is clear, but businesses need to act on changing consumer behaviour and expectations.

One hugely disrupting factor was Covid-19, which resulted in the mass closure of retail outlets. Although the growth of online shopping has changed the sector, it cannot always compete with the in-person ‘retail experience’ that some consumers enjoy.

Access to flexible forms of funding is essential to keep up with changes in any sector, and retail is no different. Whether it is a retail outlet, an e-commerce store, or an out-of-town shopping mall, retail businesses can benefit from a range of finance options that address their changing needs.

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Challenges facing the retail sector in the UK

Changing consumer expectations
To keep up with new consumer behaviour and expectations businesses need to invest in technology that provides reliable data. The instant feedback from shoppers on social channels means retail sector businesses are also exposed to loss of trade if they do not engage and interact online. 

Cost pressures
The rise in business rates and employment costs, including the National Living Wage, high-cost inflexible leases, and ever-increasing energy expenditures, all negatively affect working capital availability. Coupled with lower consumer spending due to the cost of living crisis, this may put a brake on growth plans.

Net zero carbon retail
Achieving a net zero carbon retail sector requires urgent action as customers demand sustainably-made plastic-free products and renewable or recyclable goods. Worker pay and conditions are also key concerns as ‘fast fashion’ threatens the success of the environmental initiative.

Commercial finance for the retail sector

Retail businesses need access to funding for a range of reasons, including but not limited to recruitment, marketing, cash flow, and general business expansion.

Revolving credit
A revolving credit facility is similar to a bank overdraft. Its flexibility offers retail businesses a little ‘breathing space’ concerning working capital usage - the facility can be used, repaid, and then used again for the duration of the arrangement.

Merchant cash advances
Merchant cash advances provide a reliable source of working capital, and crucially, repayments are based on the business’s future credit card sales. This means that if trade is slow and credit card receipts are lower than expected, repayments are also lower. When compared with the fixed repayments required by other types of funding, this flexibility can be extremely helpful in the retail environment.

Asset finance
This type of funding can be suitable for online retailers as well as brick-and-mortar businesses. The cost of an asset, such as a vital piece of equipment, can be spread over the duration of a hire purchase agreement, with the business taking ownership at the end.

Alternatively, leasing may be preferable for businesses to gain access to hard assets when they do not require ownership. In this case, the asset may be upgraded onto a new lease arrangement, the original lease continued, or the asset handed back if it is no longer needed.

Applying for retail sector finance

We can help you secure vital finance for your retail business as we are commercial finance brokers, rather than lenders, and know the criteria of all the UK lenders. Furthermore, we do not charge you for our services, nor ask you to sign an exclusive contract to use them.

Please contact one of the team to find out more about how we can help.

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