As total retail sales continue to track above both 2019 and 2020, you may think the retail sector has been largely undamaged by the coronavirus pandemic. However, those overall sales figures hide great peaks and disastrous lows. Food stores may have maintained sales, and home and garden products have enjoyed strong growth, but clothing and beauty stores have struggled at times.

Whichever subsector of retail you inhabit, the trading environment has undoubtedly changed. Online shopping has come of age. Its share of retail sales is at never-before-seen levels. Meanwhile thousands of shops have closed, changing the look and feel of our high streets – the retail experience will never be the same again. 

With the ongoing impact of coronavirus, Brexit and the continuing supply chain difficulties, retailers are in uncharted territory. Many are taking a fresh look at their operating models, including relationships with landlords and suppliers, labour productivity and transformative digitisation.

Ultimately, the UK has a consumer led economy so demand will always be there, but gaining market share will involve meeting the needs of an increasingly discerning and environmentally-conscious customer. Embracing technology to deliver a best-in-class customer experience, whether in-store or online, will be key. 

At RSM, we have a cross-service team of experts working across the retail sector, using our insight and experience to help clients navigate what will be an ever-evolving landscape.

How we assist our clients

As retail continues its recovery from the shockwave of coronavirus, we’ve been busy advising clients on issues including: 

As businesses look to the future and the opportunities for growth, our services to support them include audit; accounting and tax advice; financial remodelling; technology implementation and risk advisory; corporate finance, M&A and restructuring; legal and HR; payroll and more. 


Our specialist retail restructuring team can assist with CVA implementation, developing an effective turnaround strategy, simplifying corporate structure, optimising the outcome of formal insolvency, securing an appropriate funding solution and more.

VAT and duty changes 

Brexit has bought about many challenges for retailers selling into the EU. During 2021 we have seen several additional tax changes impact how the UK trades with the EU. Our VAT team can assist with the nuances of these changes and propose tailored plans to suit your needs. 

Do you need help to achieve your objectives?

Get in touch with Jacqui Baker our Head of Retail to discuss how we can assist you in achieving your strategic plans. 

What's in store?

Retail what's in store 

Our 2021 survey of the UK retail market, What's in store? found more than a few surprises.

Read more