Watching the recent Election unfold has left me feeling uncertain. How will our new Coalition deal with wage increases, an ageing population, employment law, policing and crime?
Costs are up, competition is increasing and profits in some areas are being eaten away by theft. Tobacco sales have taken a thump and illicit sales are rife, with Trading Standards having meagre resources to effectively prosecute.
I don’t think we are going to see an increase to police numbers or a boost to Trading Standards’ budgets any time soon, but I would like to see some of the help that is offered to Trading Standards by the tobacco companies expanded. Relationships seem to be getting better, but imagine how much better it could be with extra sniffer dogs, secure facilities to incinerate counterfeit tobacco, and intelligence built between reps and retailers shared with Trading Standards.
Think of the benefits to retailers if Neighbourhood Policing teams could teach us how to write a simple statement, produce handouts identifying prolific shoplifters and set up WhatsApp groups to share information with each other about forged notes, suspected shoplifters and scams in their area.
Imagine the reluctance some retailers may have to sell illicit goods if it was possible to get suppliers to pledge that, if they were prosecuted, the retailer would lose their alcohol licence, Lottery terminal and cash and carry access.
As a responsible retailer, I’d love to see our industry working together and caring for its retailers to help us face the next few years with determination and strength.