The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed the Competition Commission’s Provisional Findings report, but warned that much more needed to be done to level competition on the grocery playing field.

The small shops group called for a review of the supermarket code of practice which it deemed “too weak in its wording and not proactively enforced.”

It also expressed concern over the commissions apparent “u-turn” in its interpretation of ‘Below Cost Selling. “It is clear that the practice continues, as was the case identified by the 2000 inquiry. However this time the commission dismissed the negative impact on consumers and we are very concerned to understand why,” ACS chief executive James Lowman said.

The ACS also expressed concern about the evidence gathered and interpreted by the commission, which it claims obscured the fact that there was a trend of overall decline in c-store numbers.

“It is worrying that the commission still does not have a clear view of trends in convenience store numbers. They use three different and inconsistent data sets. Given that they make a number of conclusions related to the health of the market on the basis of this data we find it highly unsatisfactory that they allow this confusion to remain,” Lowman added.