ACS Blog

The Space Race

A couple of interesting statistics have come to light in the past week that are relevant to ACS’s long running campaign on effective town centre first planning policy. The first was broadcast as part of a Dispatches programme that aired last week on the fate of the big four supermarkets. They commissioned Glenigans to look at what had happened to supermarkets’ plans to invest in new stores.

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Buried Good News: Youth Smoking and Drinking Rates

I want to write a quick blog on the Health & Social Care Information Centre’s latest stats on smoking and drinking among 11 – 15 year olds. I’m doing this because I’m not sure this data will get a huge amount of coverage elsewhere, this being another good news story on the reduced prevalence of drinking and smoking among young people. Young people sprawled out high streets, post-fight, makes a better media angle.

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Portas: Three Years On

Today we’ve seen another contribution to the high streets debate from Mary Portas. Those who feel high streets are important can thank Mary – and also David Cameron who commissioned her – for establishing a debate about high streets in the national psyche. She published her report way back in December 2011, and since then it’s been praised and derided in almost equal measure. For the record, ACS welcomed her report when it came out, and we think that much of the criticism of it has been poorly targeted.

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Weekly Shopping Bills

Last week I wrote about the local and European elections on 22 May. Now the votes are in (but not all announced), we’re into the phase of frantic spin by all parties explaining why the results were better, or less bad, than they were expecting.

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Election Season

On 22 May, we (by which I mean substantially less than half of the UK population) will vote on how we want to be represented in the European Parliament. ACS is a non-partisan organization, though I am on record here disputing the crude maths used by UKIP to oppose immigration – we know that many convenience stores are run by recent immigrants, and that they provide jobs and add value to the economy.

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Supermarket Job Claims

You may have seen David Cameron popping up in an ASDA this week hailing their announcement of creating 12,000 new jobs. This set piece was slightly overshadowed by the revelation that the Prime Minister shops in Waitrose – surely the least surprising news of the week.

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Energy Market Investigation

On Wednesday morning, energy regulator Ofgem hastily announced that they are consulting on plans to refer the energy market to the Competition Markets Authority. The investigation, which is slated to take at least 18 months, will look at increasing competition in the marketplace by removing the barriers to entry of smaller suppliers and encouraging more switching from consumers, thus driving down prices.

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#everybodyshops

It’s unusual – and probably against the terms of my contract – to be writing in the week of ACS Summit about another event. However I really want to share some insights I picked up at the Everybody Shops conference, conceived and hosted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, last week. I was fortunate to be asked to chair this event, which was all about how retailers, suppliers, town planners and managers, and charities can work together to improve the offer for older customers.

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Budget 2014

We have had a run of major announcements affecting retail from George Osbourne in his Budgets and Autumn Financial Statements, so by his standards yesterday was a low key affair. The compelling statistics were there: the economy is back in growth (2.4%) and the amount of people unemployed has fallen again by 63,000 .

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