United Kingdom - Selling and buying
Reaching the consumers
The gap between ‘have' and ‘have not' is also widening. Therefore, the country presents a contrasted picture. This is illustrated in many ways: for example, while the country is highly urbanized, it places a high value on country living. Consumer loyalty has weakened due to increased mobility and easy accessibility to product information. Thus, consumers are increasingly shopping around for the best deals and stores offer loyalty schemes to keep their custom.
The retail sector is one of the most important parts of the UK economy contributing 5% to GDP and GBP 17.5 billion taxes, nearly 30% of all tax revenues. The UK retail sector covers all business, from large chains and department stores, through to independents and virtual stores. The sector employs over 10% of the UK workforce, making it Britain's largest private sector employer. UK retail sector sales were estimated at more than GBP 300 billion in 2011, a 3.4% increase from 2010.
The UK is at the vanguard of multi-channel shopping. Britain’s 228,000 online retailers export more than the rest of Europe’s e-retailers put together and UK consumers spend more online per head than any other country. The fastest growing subsector of online retailing is mobile internet with mobile sales in the UK up to 5.3% in 2012.
Market access procedures
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (after being allowed in the European territory), their presence should be systematically specified on packaging. The beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis (often called the "mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfulness of products.
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
The Modernized Customs Code entered into force in 2008 simplifies procedures, for example computerizing and centralizing transactions.
Organizing goods transport
Roads are dense and effective. United Kingdom is a powerful market of the European road transport and since the market was liberalized on the European level, this sector has undergone strong upheavals. The government, through the Department of Transport, has called on the private sector to finance the creation, financing and construction of new roads, and a toll-system on highways will be the next step.
Various plans of improvement of the railway infrastructure such as the modernization of tracks in West Midlands, a high speed connection between South and North as well as a project joining the East and the West are under study.
Since December 1994, Great Britain has been connected with the European continent by the Channel, exploited by Eurotunnel company and the train Euro star (Eurotunnel). An overview of the British rail system can be found on Rail.co.uk.