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The 2024 General Election and You

The 2024 General Election and You

… and they’re off. The election campaign is underway and the candidates are seeking your vote. Just as they vie for your attention, so groups like ACS try to engage with the MPs, ministers and leaders of the future, explaining why our sector matters and what they can do to help us.

Where do local shops sit in the psyche and world view of politicians? There’s a book or two for someone to write on that, but here’s my summary: they like the community role we play, they don’t always like what we sell. I think this gives us two overarching points to make that go beyond the specific arguments we might want to make on a specific policy issue. Firstly, that community role isn’t actually primarily about the brilliant charitable and local engagement we initiate; the local shop is often the only service available to that community and is very likely to be the only place where a Post Office, parcel delivery point, prescription collection counter, recycling return point or access to cash can sit when the specialist businesses offering those services move out. It’s obvious but bears re-stating: people care passionately about the area close to where they live, and the convenience store is crucial to the health and vitality of more places than any other sector in the country. Any debate about the future of service provision has to centre the local shop.

Secondly, it’s the breadth of products and services that we offer that makes us so resilient. You can’t pick and choose what a retailer sells and expect them to be viable and confident to invest in their business and their community. Some politicians don’t much like tobacco, vapes, even alcohol and increasingly sugary products. That’s their prerogative, but they shouldn’t just tolerate product categories they don’t like, they should welcome the fact that the breadth of offer in a local shop is what allows so many to offer fresh produce, meal solutions, local products and the categories that might add more social and health value in their own right. Of course some products should be regulated, and when policy-makers think about how to do that, they should put legitimate, community-based businesses at the centre of their thinking – most of our arguments with policy-makers are actually about enforcing these regulations effectively so that we’re not losing out to illegal operators.

I want to share my reflections on the campaign as it progresses, but I hope that provides a framework for how candidates might think about our sector, and how we can make our pitch for their support. We should be very proud of what we do, the investment we make, every product that we offer, our record on responsible retailing, and the local secure and flexible jobs we offer.

We have a great story and I’m looking forward to working with you to tell it over the coming weeks. To aid your engagement with candidates during the election we have pulled together a pack of materials to help you facility store visits and have good conversations about the value of our sector and your business to the national economy and local community. ACS’ Election pack is available to download here.

This entry was posted by Anna onMon, 03/06/2024 - 12:51
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