The British Retail Consortium has warned that retailers will be forced to pass on major increases in their rates bills to consumers when new valuations for properties come into force in 2010.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson yesterday (9 September) said increased property costs would “inevitably filter through to higher prices for customers” and called on the Government to act to ease the pressure on retailers likely to be hit by the revaluations.

The warning came in response to data from GL Hearn and Investment Property Databank suggesting rates bills for retailers will rise by 16% in 2010.

“This research provides worrying evidence that retailers, already suffering the economic slowdown and increases in property costs, have worse to come,” Robertson said.

“The Government should accept it can best help customers by enabling retailers to keep prices down. With growing uncertainty about the rental property market since the April 2008 valuation date, it must look again at the basis of this revaluation. It must also reintroduce empty property rates relief and reconsider its plans for business rate supplements.”

Empty property rates relief was abolished last year, while the mooted introduction of business rate supplements could see local authorities pick up an extra slice of the increased bills.