Spring Budget: Survey says retail and tourism spend would rise if VAT cut

Two thirds of consumers would increase spending on retail, tourism and eating out if VAT is cut in the spring budget, according to a commercial insurer.

Weekend away? Stately homes and gardens could benefit. Image: Blenheim Palace
Weekend away? Stately homes and gardens could benefit. Image: Blenheim Palace

NFU Mutual, via ICM Unlimited, asked 2,040 respondents how they would be most likely to spend an average extra 5% saving, should there be a reduction in VAT to 15%.

Retailers would be set to benefit most, with 58% of respondents likely to increase retail spend, with a 51% to 49% high street and online split.

Not far behind is tourism and leisure, with 53% saying they would increase spending on weekend breaks in the UK, eating out and hobbies and leisure. More than a third, 36% said they would spend more on grocery shopping.

Retail sector specialist at NFU Mutual Frank Woods said: "The encouraging sign is that there is clearly huge appetite for increased spending in UK retail and tourism sectors, and that many people see VAT relief as an effective means to inspire it.  

"As business rates, Brexit and rising inflation continue to put immense financial pressure on businesses, the Chancellor has the opportunity to ease some of those concerns at the Spring Budget. A cut of VAT by just 5% could encourage consumer spending in retail with anywhere up to £11.2bn and tourism with up to £10.3bn, although whether the opportunity can be delivered to benefit UK businesses remains to be seen."

A cut in VAT by 5% could provide the average UK adult with extra spending power of £547 per year. With NFU Mutual’s research showing that 67% of consumers would increase some spend as a result of VAT savings, British businesses could look forward to a potential cash injection of up to £19.3bn.

The survey, which took place in October, found that 18 to 24-year-olds were most likely to increase spend as a result of a VAT cut in general (78%), with the high street (20%) and online shopping (26%) for products including clothing and electrical goods most likely to benefit. Of spenders, 13% would take a weekend break in the UK, while 25% would most likely increase spend on food and drink shopping.

Woods said the 24% increase in online spending could benefit importers.

He added: "While the overall Spring Budget is expected to support growth, any boosts such as a cut in VAT could also be offset by increases in other taxes, meaning that savings aren’t necessarily felt."

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