Retailers face paying a massive £700,000 a year per supermarket in business rates from this month, according to new figures obtained by The Grocer - despite government pledges to reduce the burden on the sector.
The figures, compiled by business rates expert Paul Turner-Mitchell from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website, show large-format supermarkets - defined by the VOA as stores with over 27,000 sq ft - will pay on average 19%, or £111,153, more than in 2010/11.
The VOA investigation also reveals the top 12 individual supermarket ratepayers alone will contribute £26.4m in business rates to the Treasury in the next year.
New rates came in on 1 April; the government is currently conducting a major review of business rates but has said it intends for any changes to be “fiscally neutral”.
This week, Grocer guest editor Mark Price, MD of Waitrose, urged the government to think again about the terms of its review. He warned if the burden on retailers was not reduced, they could be forced to pass on the tax as price increases to consumers. “The figures in this investigation are huge, telephone numbers in an area of the retail business that is already struggling,” he said. “I would say to the government, if you don’t do something about rates you are going to see high streets that look very different in five years’ time. Something has got to give.”
Sainsbury’s hypermarket in Calcot, near Reading, tops the list of the top 12 business rate payers, with a staggering bill of £2.4m for 2015/16.
The list also makes grim reading for Tesco, which some analysts predict will be forced into a further property writedown in its results next week, with hypermarkets in Newcastle, Sandhurst, Slough, Kingston, Cheshunt and Chesterfield all facing bills of £2m-plus.
A spokesman for the BRC said it was “encouraged” all major parties were backing a rates review. “The Conservative manifesto furnishes us with more detail (see box), with the intention to have a reformed system in place by 2017. We now need to learn how the government intends to proceed with its structural review once the initial gathering of evidence concludes.”