Will the Budget Encourage Brands "to Do Things We Have Never Done Before"​?

By Michelle Whelan, CEO, VMLY&R COMMERCE UK

March 5, 2021

As a wise woman once said, “the devil is always in the detail”. It usually takes a few days after the Chancellor’s glossy reveal to flush it out.

Rishi Sunak’s budget was aimed squarely at restarting the UK’s economy, with targeted giveaways and no punitive tax rises – at least not yet.

This budget includes £65bn of new support, taking total Covid-linked spending this year and next to £352bn and total stimulus of £407bn. As much as this is needed now, there’s a reckoning ahead as borrowing rises - by a record £589bn in this period. It is going to be tough – but it’s also going to open up new growth opportunities.

So, how might we now re-imagine the road to recovery for brands and retailers?

According to the chancellor “we’re going to do things we have never done before to grow and innovate.” And with a raft of new financial measures to help and support UK hospitality and retail businesses including £5bn of ‘restart’ grants, now is the time to accelerate into new growth areas.

Innovation is happening all around us. Last week Shopify extended its US partnership with Tik Tok into Europe, giving Shopify shops access to over 100 millions Tik Tok users. According to Kantar 83% of Tik Tok’s audience have made purchases via its trending content, using the platform to discover new products. And the hashtag #smallbusiness has been used 3bn times to date.

We have learned during the pandemic that we can happily be in BETA at the very moment commerce moves into new spaces. Testing and trialling (at pace) are the path to growth – with new ways to engage with customers through emerging channels and platforms. 

If that sounds too far in the future, let’s start to look at the significance of the Chancellor’s new threshold of contactless payments going from £45 to £100. That’s the opportunity to double the basket size of any ‘one tap’. A big opportunity in itself to revive physical retail. 

So as we examine the implications of the budget over the next few days, let’s look at that detail as an opportunity to grow and innovate.