ACS Blog

Levelling up through local shops

I’ve spent some of this week at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester. We’ve produced a podcast with a number of colleagues talking about what we found and what we learned, so have a listen to that.

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Making Net Zero Happen

Right, so I’m assuming you’ve all heard talk about “net zero”, and the ambitions of governments around the world to make the carbon emitted into the atmosphere less than the amount taken out of the atmosphere. I’ll also assume that you’re aware that the implications of global warming are becoming more severe and more urgent, according to each scientific analysis we see published. This all has significant personal implications for you and your family, but the question that we are constantly trying to address is: what can we do as convenience store operators to become net zero operators?

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Making Freedom Day a Success

The Prime Minister has announced plans for the full re-opening of the economy and the end of legal restrictions on how people can behave, from 19 July. I leave the debate on whether this is strategically the right decision to the epidemiologists and behavioural scientists, but of course I’d like to see a return to normal as soon as we can. The problem is that the way the government is taking this next step is already looking flawed, and we need to see some changes in their approach right now if we’re going to move forward safely.

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Finding and Keeping Great People

Pop into your local town centre, or look online, and you’ll see countless adverts for jobs in hospitality. Pubs, hotels and restaurants are facing acute staff shortages with the continuation of the furlough scheme until September, the loss of some potential workers from the EU who may feel less able or inclined to come to work in post-Brexit Britain, and the additional time lags and hassle brought about by Covid testing regimes. All this adds up to another blow to hospitality which is of course at the sharp end of the pandemic in any case.

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Investing for Growth?

Two things happened last week that have prompted me to write this: we had Rishi Sunak’s second budget, and closer to home our Voice of Local Shops survey results came back. This is our quarterly survey of about 1,200 retailers in which we find out their levels of optimism, future plans, and views on a range of issues where we’re talking to government. It’s an invaluable part of what we do, making sure that we’re able to share facts as well as sentiment as we take part in policy discussions on issues that retailers care about.

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Supporting People Living With Dementia

We’ve all got a little bit too used to looking at statistics over the past year. I hope you don’t doomscroll for the 5pm updates on Coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths every day, but even if you’re trying to avoid looking at this it’s hard to avoid the stark and shocking numbers providing the backdrop to this period of our lives. It’s a bit of a cliché to say we should look at the people behind the statistics – of course we should do that but it’s quite abstract and often quite depressing.

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The Future of Cash

I was looking to draft a blog about the future of cash, and then the government launched a call for evidence on … the future of cash, so here are my thoughts which now kind of double as a framework for how we will respond to this consultation. The debate about the future of cash in the UK economy and specifically in convenience stores touches on lots of the issues that I find really interesting about our sector and how we manage change.

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Celebrating the Heart of Our Communities

As is the theme of 2020, this year’s Heart of the Community conference looked rather different to our usual setup, due to Covid-19 were unable to gather physically so instead this was done virtually and I’m pleased to say that this was done successfully.

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The Next Phase

Since the start of the Covid crisis my colleagues and I at ACS have not just been working to help members to deal with the immediate challenges they’ve been facing, we’ve also been leading a discussion about what we can all learn from this experience. Which of the behaviours we’ve seen over this period will last, which are specific to this time? What would we do differently if we had our time again or if the same issues emerged again?

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Revisiting the Obesity Debate and the Impact on Local Shops

I’m not the first person to note that the Covid-19 crisis has shaken up politics. After the December 2019 election, we were expecting to be dealing with a government populated by libertarians and putting great faith in the free market and personal responsibility. The one thing we didn’t expect Boris Johnson to be accused of was operating a nanny state, but that’s exactly the charge being levelled by some now.

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