When I started asking retailers to talk about what the tabloids have started calling the ‘Tesco Tax’, I expected the large majority to think that, ultimately, such a tax would be “just desserts” for the big four supermarkets. 

But, after speaking with retailers big and small, urban and rural, newsagent and convenience, I was struck by how split the industry was.

James and Bob, are great examples of the two sides of the story. In short: they’ve got it coming, and should pay their fair share; or, I simply don’t want to be treated as a charity.

I think that Bob’s views, coupled with those of Jonathan Tout, reflect a growing, and deserved, confidence in the ability of independent convenience retailers to fight the big boys on their own terms.

“People are realising that enough is enough,” says Bob. He is confident that his store offers exactly what his community want. He knows that his shoppers are steering away from the “Big Four” and towards the extra service and commitment he can offer.

Similarly, Jonathan Tout has ultimate confidence in what he does. “If it is right for the people of our community, it’s right for us,” he says. 

He knows that there is a real difference between the big out-of-town sheds, and the genuine, community-focused ‘convenience’ store.

Northern Ireland has already announced that its own supermarket levy won’t continue past 2015. It’s fantastic that small businesses are finally being thought of by local councils – but any levy needs fairness, and clarity.

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