After launching the Independent Retailer Report last month at the House of Commons, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents is taking the message to Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and most recently Cardiff.
I have attended the House of Commons receptions for the past couple of years and found the event at the Welsh Assembly a much more intimate affair. The Welsh NFRN retailers who attended were ably supported by the National Executive members.
When NFRN National President Ray Monelle spoke about the Independent Retailer Report for Wales, he said that NFRN members are the live blood of many communities, but our very survival is under threat. He then went on to talk about his own experience as owner as of a small shop: “I have had six armed robberies, I have suffered burglaries, I have suffered all sorts. Crime for small shops that have one person in the store is getting more and more difficult for us to manage.”
Retail Crime is at the centre of the report. Shop theft remains the highest cost to retailers, but retailers and their employees also suffer unacceptable levels of verbal and violent abuse, robbery, vandalism and fraud. The report highlights robberies in Cwmbran, Holywell and Llandudno that have occurred this year.
In his response, Assembly Member for Monmouthshire Nick Ramsay said: “the report reveals that only 34% of shop theft is reported to the police. We need to look at the reasons why retailers are being deterred from reporting retail crimes. These may be the reporting mechanisms, slow prosecution rates, there is a whole plethora of things to achieve that. It is essential for the Welsh Government to work with all interested parties including the NFRN and the police on this matter which is why I feel that this report is so important in highlighting this particular issue.”
Retail crime is not the only issue covered by the report. The other areas of focus are business rates, the high streets, National Living Wage, digital tax and payment services.
Mark Dudden, Wales district president said after the event: “the reception was a great platform to make the case on the issues that affect us and to illustrate the value that we add to our communities to our representatives in the Welsh Assembly. I think that holding the launch of the Independent Retailer Report for Wales at the assembly has certainly raised the profile of the NFRN.”