Store owners in and around London have warned that the widening of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge area will add costs and complexity to their businesses.
From 29 August, daily ULEZ charges for non-compliant vehicles will expand to most places within the M25.
A letter to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, sent last week by Fed president Jason Birks, said the change would “have a disproportionate effect on lower-income retailers who rely on their personal vehicles to sustain their businesses”.
The Mayor of London has created a ‘scrappage scheme’, paying residents and small businesses with a London address and up to 10 employees £5,000 to scrap or ‘retrofit’ a non-compliant van.
Under the scheme, £7,500 is available for those that replace a non-compliant van with an electric van.
Stores must have a turnover of less than £632,000, or less than £316,000 on their balance sheets for the previous and current years.
Retailers told RN the scheme was unfeasible. Fed member Nilesh Patel’s Nils Convenience Store in Ilford, east London, is one of those caught in the expanded zone. He told RN: “My van is 15 years old, but has only done 50,000 miles. It’s used once a week for big cash-and-carry trips. We’ve looked at swapping it, but there’s a huge waiting list for new vans, and the prices of secondhand ULEZ-compliant ones have shot up.”
The Fed’s letter expressed “strong concerns” for “how little time you have delegated for Londoners to switch vehicles”. It concluded: “The Fed urges you to delay this expansion.”
For those spending £1,000 on each cash-and-carry run with a non- ULEZ-compliant van, and making 25% average margin on goods sold, the charge will erode 5% of their total gross profit.
The ULEZ expansion also affects stores out-side of London, such as Dipak and Jayshree Shah’s H&R News in Camberley Surrey, which uses some London cash and carries soon to be within the ULEZ.
Many cash and carries popular with stores in London and the surr-ounding area will fall into this category, including Abra Wholesale in Enfield, Time Wholesale in Rainham, and Dhamecha depots in Hayes, Barking, Croydon, Wembley and Enfield.
Stores inside and outside of London told RN they hoped to reduce the frequency of cash-and-carry runs to minimise charges, but expressed concerns they would be less able to maintain availability through smaller top-up visits.
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