One of ACS’ ongoing political activities is the organisation of store visits with MPs, so they can hear from retailers in their constituency about the pressures facing their business, as well as good news stories about store developments and engagement with their communities.

During these store visits (of which we’ve held more than 30 so far this year), investment is a topic of conversation that comes up almost every time.

While MPs underestimate the levels of investment in the sector (in the past year alone, convenience stores have invested around £700m in improving their businesses) it’s important to explain the difference this makes to stores, their communities, and the local economy.

It’s not surprising that many of these conversations turn to the barriers to investment which are preventing stores from securing their long-term future.

Many of these conversations turn to the barriers to investment which are preventing stores from securing their long-term future

With the cost of lending being comparatively low in recent years, you might expect that retailers can just go to the bank to secure loans for new investments. Our research suggests that this isn’t the case, with just 7% of retailers going to the bank for funding, while more than two-thirds fund their investments from their own reserves and around one in seven rely on funding from suppliers.

This highlights a wider issue that retailers have with banks that goes beyond just access to finance. We hear about the cost of doing business with a bank increasing, with charges for banking cash going up, charges for handling debit and credit card payments still too high, and many experiencing exorbitant fees and interest rates when using overdraft facilities.

All this mitigates against retailers investing in and growing their businesses.

We want to hear from you so that we can present a compelling picture to Government and press for more support for retailers.  What issues do you face when dealing with your banks, what does a good banking relationship look like, and what would help to improve this for your business?

You can send your views through to us by contacting the public affairs team at steve.dowling@acs.org.uk or call the office on 01252 515001. Look out for our report in the next few weeks.