Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis has called for a tax on the sale of online goods to prevent the demise of brick-and-mortar stores.
The supermarket boss told The Mail on Sunday that the chancellor, Philip Hammond, should introduce a two per cent charge on goods sold online which could then be used to fund a tax break for retailers.
He said that the failure to impose a so-called “Amazon tax” has led to an “industry” issue and the time has come to “shift the burden of raising the country’s income” away from store chains.
“Three years ago I talked about a potential lethal cocktail of pressures in the retail industry and now you are seeing that come to fruition,” Lewis said.
“The tax burden has reached the point where companies are going bust. Has the government thought through what happens when retail starts to decline and if the job losses start to become significant?” Lewis said.
Lewis said traditional retailers are struggling to cope against rising costs, taxes, higher wages as well as online competition.
According to The Guardian, Philip Hammond acknowledged that the government would need to tax internet giants such as Amazon and Google at the Tory conference last week.
“The global internet giants must contribute fairly to funding our public services,” Hammond said.
“The time for talking is coming to an end and the stalling has to stop. If we cannot reach agreement, the UK will go it alone with a digital services tax of its own,” he added.
The UK retail industry has received a number of blows already this year, including the downfall of Toys R Us and House of Fraser, as well as hundreds of store closures by Marks & Spencer and Mothercare.