The national headlines belonged to the scrapping of the 50p tax rate, and the government's curious decision to alienate everyone over 65 - but there were some elements of yesterday's budget which will have some interesting implications for the retail market over the next couple of years.
Perhaps the aspect mentioned most often by retail experts is over something that the budget didn't do, rather than that which it did. With no respite coming from the Chancellor over the impending 5.6% increase in business rates next month, the cost base for retailers will increase over the next year - and will be in no way offset by inflation, or the cut in corporation tax.
Documents released yesterday indicate that government revenue will be around £592 billion will be raised in the 2012/13 financial year - up £3 billion on 2011/12; and the increase in business rates accounts for a third of this figure.
The decision to relax Sunday trading laws for eight weeks over the summer seems almost like a piece of opportunism, rather than a carefully thought-out piece of legislation, and has gained mixed reviews since its announcement. CBRE's Jonathan de Mello called it a 'timely boost', and that any other decision would represent a 'missed opportunity'; whilst the Association of Convenience Stores have labelled it 'devastating', as it will cost local shops around £480 million in lost trade.
Below-inflation minimum wage increases for adults and freezing the youth rates will certainly be music to the ears of under-pressure retailers; and the increase in personal tax allowances should eventually help consumer spend. The question is whether this increase is coming soon enough - as by April 2013, consumers will have had another year of purse-string-tightening, and the requisite shift in consumer behaviour will be a lot more difficult to engender.
This budget rather gives an impression of the government leaving the retail market in the doldrums for the time being, and rather hoping that the one-time cash injection provided by the Olympic summer can stave off total catastrophe until the population in general has more disposable income in 2013 and 2014. There are, of course, longer term issues over the market which need to be addressed - but the chance for a shot in the arm has gone, and retailers are now left to make the best of what they can out of 2012.