A retailer has written in asking what he can do about the serious problems long term roadworks are having on his business.

This is a problem that has affected many store owners across the country for years. Historically, there has been little that a retailer can do to gain compensation when roadworks damage their profitability. In this case the local council have given a negative response to requests for help.

My guidance for retailers is:

Contact your local councillor and invite them to visit you in your store. Tell them about the damage the road works are doing to your trade. Have the latest facts about loss of sales and the impact on profitability available when they visit you.

Be open with them; tell them how it is impacting on your family’s income. If you have had to reduce employees hours ensure they know about this too. Ask them what you can do and what help they can give you to get a better response from the local council.

Contact your MP either by going to the local surgery or by inviting them along to your store. If you have a private conversation with them you can let them know how the roadworks are damaging your business. Make it personal.

Get in touch with your local newspaper and other media to get some publicity on the issue. If your local MP visits your store you may gain a good photo opportunity to illustrate the story.

Local councils have the power to provide business rates relief on a hardship basis. Ask your council about this and get them to send to the application form so you can do this. Ensure that you apply for assistance for the period beyond the end of the roadworks as your business may not immediately return to its former vigour.

When your business is under pressure from issues outside your control, like a road closure, it’s time to up your marketing. Your potential customers within walking distance to your store become much more important. Doing a round of door to door leafleting should have a positive effect. You can also let them know about the problems that the roadworks are causing you.

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