Local stores in Wales are calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to introduce further support in energy bills to help businesses with their energy costs ahead of his spring statement on Wednesday (15) as they continue to deal with four to five times hiked bills.
According to a recent report by BBC, local convenience stores in Cardiff are seeing a spike of four to five times in energy bills. Measures like dimming and turning off lights or emptying and turning off freezers have resulted in only small savings which barely dent the increased bills from his supplier.
The shops are also seeing a drop in the number of customers, while those who do come are spending less, states the report, adding that many local store owners are worried about the sustainability of their businesses.
“It’s not affordable,” BBC quoted retailer Ruhail Shahzad, who runs Tremorfa Superstore in Cardiff, as saying. “At prices like this, I can’t see myself staying here much longer.”
“Please reconsider, and look at all the businesses that are struggling, because you have no idea how bad things are”, said Shahzad, asking Hunt to introduce further support to help businesses with their energy costs.
“But unless the government intervenes and allows those businesses who signed last year to renegotiate at lower levels, then those businesses will continue to find it really difficult to survive over the next twelve to fifteen months,” Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of BIRA, said.
Some 23,000 people in Wales are employed by convenience stores, with the sector contributing over £600m to the economy, according to the Association of Convenience Stores.
The appeal comes as a retail trade union is seeking better protection for workers amid reports claiming that increased automation in retailing is leading to job losses.
Retail trade union Usdaw’s delegation to the Welsh Labour conference, which runs until 13 March in Llandudno, Clwyd, is seeking better protection for workers when new technology is introduced into stores.
Automation being introduced in c-stores includes self-scan tills and electronic shelf-edge labels, which reduce the need for staff to do things manually.