Better protection for independent retailers against violent crime topped the NFRN’s agenda at the launch of its Independent Retail Report 2017 yesterday.

At a parliamentary reception, the NFRN revealed that 44% of its members believe crime against their business has increased in the past five years, with a further 17% stating that it had increased significantly.

Speaking at the launch, NFRN national president Ray Monelle said: “These days, more and more, we find ourselves under attack. Our trading environment gets tougher, crimes against retailers are on the increase, our costs are rising and we face more and more legislation.”

He added that his store, in a small seaside town, had suffered six armed robberies.

Martin Vickers MP and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Retail Crime said: “The small shop plays an absolutely crucial role, not only in providing the service to the customer, but in being part of the local community.

“The recent [British Retail Consortium] crime survey reveals the enormous cost of shop theft to retailers –£438m last year, a record high. It’s discouraging to note the police response is less than we’d like and worrying that many retailers find that when it comes to “lesser” crimes, such as vandalism, it’s not worth reporting.”

He pledged to continue to work with the industry, police, government and councils to help retailers. “It’s important as an organisation, and we as MPs, take this message to our local chief constables and police commissioners, local police commanders and so on, and try to highlight that it’s not just the owners of those businesses, but their staff as well who face daily abuse and, in some cases, violence,” he added.

As well as retail crime, the NFRN laid out several key challenges the independent retail sector is facing, such as business rates, service failings, and the national living and minimum wage, and called for support from the Government, police and local councils to help retailers overcome them.

The NFRN is calling for:

  1. The Government to do more to help protect shop workers in their place of work by introducing a specific offence for assaulting a shop worker when asking a customer for ID.
  2. Police to work closer with small and micro businesses – particularly retailers trying to combat organised and violent crime – and for the Government to affirm a tough stance on retail crime, improve response times and build a system that deters people from committing shop theft.
  3. The Government to amend the Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (England) Order 2015 to include small retailers.
  4. The Government to launch a review of the wholesale distribution network to create a fair market for news retailers.
  5. The Government to recognise the value of the service provided by independent retailers for their local community, and support its members by offsetting costs, such as reducing business rates.
  6. An initial voluntary approach to Making Tax Digital and quarterly tax reporting rather than a mandatory approach.
  7. The Government and local authorities to work together to provide more competitively-price parking, leading to more affordable spaces in town centres or near high streets.
  8. A simple, transparent process for businesses to claim compensation and business rate reduction for road works and utility maintenance that has affected their business.
  9. The Government to extend London weighted business rate relief to exempt small and micro businesses in central London from paying rates, with tapering relief for outer-London stores. And for councils to exercise their power for discretionary relief.
  10. A review of the turnover-based model for calculating business rates for forecourts and ATMs and a review of the appropriateness of rates bills for internet distribution warehouses compared to high street competitors.