Introduced in April, the ULEZ charges £12.50 per day to non-compliant distribution vehicles travelling through central London.

When the ULEZ boundary is extended, however, up to 5,765 convenience stores in the capital will be impacted, as well as two Smiths News depots.

Praful Mehta, of Meads News, told betterRetailing: “It has definitely had an impact. Most of our suppliers have an old van, so it affects their prices, and then us.”

Jack Bhatt, owner of Universal Newsagent in Highbury, agreed the boundary extension would result in rising costs.

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“I am not in the centre of London, but on the border of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and the main impact will be in 2021, when it is rolled out further and the regulations are stricter,” he said.

“The emission zone increases costs because it costs drivers more to deliver the papers, and they are putting the extra costs on retailers – it’s wrong. 

“If I order from eBay or Amazon, they don’t tell me the driver had to pay extra to drive in central London, and then increase the price. 

“It’s unfair to put the burden on retailers. The sale of papers and magazines is already going substantially down year in, year out.”

The ULEZ charges also run alongside the Congestion Charge, which has added to the costs facing distributors. Vehicles heavier than 3.5 tonnes face a £100 fine, with more vehicles of this size likely to be affected following the expansion.

A scrappage scheme has been designed to aid small businesses in replacing their non-compliant vehicles, which could help keep costs down for distributors. 

Smiths News operations director Phil Adams told betterRetailing ULEZ will have little impact on newspaper distribution. He confirmed it would review the extension in 2021 and amend plans accordingly to maintain its level of service.

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