Thousands of local shops at risk without long term energy support: ACS

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The Association of Convenience Stores has warned that store closures are inevitable if local shops do not receive support on energy bills beyond March 2023. It is calling on retailers to write to their MPs to highlight the impact of rising energy costs on their businesses.

In a letter to the Business Secretary, ACS has called for an extension of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme until at least April 2024 for convenience stores across the UK, giving retailers the certainty they need to be able to keep trading and serving their communities.

Businesses who renewed their contracts at any point after 1st December 2021 have been eligible for support through the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme. The support provided to business comes in the form of a wholesale price set at 21.1p per kWh for electricity, and 7.5p per kWh for gas. This is the supported wholesale price, which makes up part of the overall kWh rate that a business pays, and is currently due to expire at the end of March 2023.

Convenience stores are facing electricity rates of upwards up 90p per kWh from April 2023 when the current supported wholesale price expires. For the convenience sector, this equates to a total bill of up to £4.3bn, an average of over £88,000 per store. This could be three to four times what retailers were paying in 2021.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Energy Bill Relief Scheme has provided a lifeline for thousands of convenience stores, but without longer term support retailers tell us that they may be forced to close, or at best cancel investment and make difficult decisions about staffing and service provision in stores. We need the scheme to be extended through to April 2024, with an announcement as soon as possible to enable retailers to make plans for next year.

“The case for supporting convenience stores is clear, we provide over 405,000 jobs at store level across the UK, we are the business type that has the most positive impact locally, and we provide an unparalleled range of products and services on people’s doorsteps. The closure of a convenience store in any community is an enormous loss, so we believe that our sector represents the best return on investment for Government looking to provide targeted support.”

As part of the campaign, ACS is calling on retailers to write to their MPs to highlight the impact of rising energy costs on their businesses. Retailers should enter their postcode on the MP email generator here to get involved.