ACS reassures public, MPs as demand spikes at local shops

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A hand washing station outside the Snooty Fox community store in Shalford, Surrey.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) today reassured the public and the MPs on the availability of food at local stores.

The association has written to all MPs today (23 March), detailing the effort being undertaken by the stores to ensure local customers access to essential goods and services.

“It is important that MPs understand the incredible work that local shops are doing to keep their local communities going,” commented James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.

“Whether its dedicating opening hours to vulnerable and elderly customers, starting a home delivery service to reach customers that can’t get in to store, or working additional hours through the night to make sure that stores are restocked for the following day, convenience stores are going above and beyond to serve their local customers.”

The letter also reassures MPs that the food supply chain is functioning normally with food still being produced and distributed, and any shortages are due to exceptional demand on some products.

ACS, in a public statement, noted that the pressure on local stores has been increasing steadily as the COVID-19 restrictions have grown.

“Initially, most stockpiling was focused on larger stores, but now we are seeing massive increases in the number of customers using particularly neighbourhood and village stores,” the statement said.

“Our supply chains are working well, products are being delivered into stores, and there is no reason for people to shop any differently. It is this totally unprecedented buying behaviour that is leading to gaps on shelves.”

The association urged the public to support the shop staff as stores try to help communities in many other ways, such as offering more delivery services, bringing in staff from other industries that have lost their trade at this time, and supporting older and more vulnerable customers.

“To keep doing this, we need help from the people we serve. Most importantly our colleagues are being asked to do even more than usual at a time when they are, like everyone, worried about their families and their health. Please treat everyone in our stores with the respect that you would expect if you were in their shoes. If we are limiting purchases, this is to make sure that those who are most in need can get essential products.”