The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is once again urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to provide essential support to convenience store retailers. The focus is on measures to enhance safety, security and the long-term viability of these businesses.
The call comes ahead of the Autumn Statement scheduled for 22 November.
Three key requests from ACS submission
In its submission, the ACS emphasises three critical areas where support is needed for retailers:
- Stability on business rates: freeze the multiplier
- ACS recommends freezing the business rates multiplier to help businesses cope with the impact of inflation. This move aims to provide stability for retailers facing financial challenges.
- Continuation of retail and hospitality relief
- The ACS proposes extending the 75% retail and hospitality relief for an additional year. This measure aims to offer continued support to businesses in these sectors, helping them navigate economic uncertainties.
- Pragmatic approach to national living wage
- ACS calls for the introduction of a mechanism to pause uplifts in the National Living Wage if they adversely affect employment opportunities and investment. This proposal seeks to balance wage increases with the economic realities faced by businesses.
Additional measures for community well-being
The ACS submission also includes other significant measures, such as delivering more funding to combat the illicit tobacco and vaping market and introducing tax incentives for businesses investing in crime prevention.
James Lowman, ACS chief executive, emphasises the challenges faced by convenience store retailers, including high energy bills, inflationary pressures and the constant threat of theft and crime.
Lowman urges the Chancellor to provide a much-needed boost to the sector.
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He highlights the importance of supporting convenience stores in investing in crime prevention, energy efficiency and additional services, reinforcing the role of the government in backing local jobs and investments.
Investments in the convenience sector highlighted
Figures from the 2023 Local Shop Report reveal that over the past year, convenience stores have invested more than £646m in various aspects of their businesses.
These investments include areas such as refrigeration, technology, CCTV, expanded services and a more diverse range of products.
ACS believes the data underscores the industry’s commitment to enhancing and adapting to the evolving needs of local communities.