Thousands of convenience stores are now at risk of permanent closure after government support to battle rising energy costs has come to an end.
Last September, retailers welcomed the introduction of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which fixed gas and electricity prices for all firms from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023.
However, they were warned in January that the government support would be scaled back after the end date.
The industry was pinning its hopes on a shift in perspective at the recent Spring Budget, but chancellor Jeremy Hunt failed to extend support to small businesses, and favoured households.
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ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have repeatedly warned the government that there are many convenience stores that simply cannot afford the increases that they are seeing in their energy costs, and without additional support they may be forced to close their doors for good.”
It is estimated a total of 6,900 convenience stores are currently stuck in excessive fixed contracts, putting more than 46,000 colleagues at risk. Several retailers told betterRetailing they are feeling “panicked”.
Amy Sohal, owner of Premier – Ken’s Convenience Store in Winsford, Cheshire, said: “Our contract ends in June, and after that we’ll be on a much higher rate. We need to get more relief in order to survive.”
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