The most effective action the government could take to aid independent stores would be to reduce business rates, according to a poll of retailers at the recent Convenience Retailing Show in Birmingham.

As part of a consultation to set the agenda for local shops between now and the next parliamentary election, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) invited retailers visiting the show earlier this month to prioritise action that they believe the government should take to support the retail sector.

Reduced business rates topped the wish list, followed by abandoning the tobacco display ban, introducing a supermarket regulator, tougher action against shop thieves and a halt to any further increases in the minimum wage.

ACS chief executive James Lowman was delighted with the number of responses to the poll. "There was strong opinion in favour of all the topics," he said. "It is clear that retailers care passionately about the way that taxes and regulation affect their business.

"We will take this message to government as part of our ongoing campaigning work."

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