Only 12 per cent of the top 100 UK retailers say they have plans in place should the country vote to leave the EU on June 23, according to a survey of the top 100 retailers by UK law firm TLT.
This is despite Brexit being one of the top three legal and regulatory issues concerning retailers and an overwhelming majority (67%) believing that 'Brexit' will make exporting more difficult and increase the cost of imports (54%).
A significant proportion of major retailers also think that leaving will make it harder to hire staff (48%) and will increase currency fluctuations (18%). Escalating labour costs (14%) and subdued trade because of lower consumer confidence (22%) were also concerns.
The survey found a measured view amongst retailers about the importance of the EU to their growth, Whilst 46 per cent thought membership was ‘quite or very helpful’ 30 per cent thought it harmful. A significant minority thought it made no difference (24%).
Perran Jervis, Head of Retail & Consumer Goods at UK law firm TLT said: "Although the potential implications are a concern for some retailers, preparations for Brexit are clearly not top of the priority list just yet. With the lack of specifics around what a post-EU world might look like and the potential for a reasonably lengthy transition period this is perhaps not surprising."
Despite the prominence of the Brexit debate, the TLT Retail Survey 2016 revealed that the National Living Wage is actually the biggest issue for an overwhelming proportion of retailers (94%) with gender pay reporting also high on the list.
Perran Jervis continued: "It is notable that the two most significant regulatory and legal burdens identified by retailers, the National Living Wage and gender pay reporting, are essentially ‘home grown’ issues and have nothing to do with the EU. But, they are clearly front of mind for retailers because they will have an immediate impact on margin and will therefore affect how retailers operate their businesses to mitigate that impact."