Although it was not entirely unexpected, the government’s announcement that it is cutting the energy support it gives to businesses by a whopping 85% from 1 April has still come as a bitter blow to independent retailers.
When exorbitant energy bills are added to falling margins and rising payroll costs, the future for the independent retail sector does look somewhat bleak.
Defending the move, the government said that it had provided “an unprecedented package of support for non-domestic users through this winter”, but this support was “time-limited” and intended as a bridge to allow businesses to adapt.
OPINION: Retailers can only cope with so much new legislation – Pete Cheema, chief executive, SGF
It added that its new energy package strikes a balance between supporting businesses over the next 12 months and limiting taxpayer’s exposure to volatile energy markets, with a cap set at £5bn. But as we have warned in the run up to the government’s delayed announcement, without adequate financial support, many independent retailers will continue to struggle to survive, and, at worst, will cease to exist.
Each time an independent convenience store closes, a community loses its beating heart.
This new Energy Business Discount Scheme is set to run from 1 April this year, when the current scheme comes to an end, operating until 31 March 2024.
This means there is still time for the government to reconsider its actions, and between now and April, the Fed will use all of its powers of persuasion to lay bare the challenges that independent retailers are facing amid this cost-of-doing-business crisis.
We will also work closely with our business partners to find new ways for members to make money, save money and make business easier.
Read more of our expert opinion on the independent retail sector
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