PwC survey details top concerns of retail CEOs

New York -- Increasing tax burdens (76%) are the top concern of retail CEOs, according to PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey. Worries about the tax burden were followed by the government response to the fiscal deficit and debt burden (74%), over-regulation (69%), the high and volatile prices of raw materials (68%), and exchange rate volatility (64%).

The report finds that a majority (80%) of retail CEOs believe “technological advances” is the global trend that will most transform businesses during the next five years, with “demographic shifts” a distant second. Only 38% of retail CEOs see the speed of technological change as a concern, compared to 47% of CEOs overall.

Retail and consumer goods CEOs are concerned about many of the same issues, according to the report. The consumer goods chiefs share retailers’ concerns about the high prices of raw materials. Nearly three-quarters of consumer goods CEOs and almost as many retail CEOs saying they are “somewhat” or “extremely” concerned that a rise in those raw materials prices could slow down growth. Also, both groups say they are more worried about sluggish growth in developed economies than in high-growth ones.

The survey also finds retail and consumer goods CEOs more optimistic than last year. Thirty-eight percent of them believe that the global economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to just 17% last year.

In other survey highlights:

• In terms of markets, 26% of retail CEOs planning transactions have their eyes on Western Europe, making it their top deal destination.

• Retail and consumer goods CEOs agree they will need to change their talent strategies to cope with future trends like demographic changes and urbanization. But less than 40% of them think their HR departments are well prepared to execute on plans to capitalize on transformative global trends.

• Around half of both retail and consumer goods CEOs worry that supply chain disruption could threaten growth.

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