The government is to give retailers a few extra days to comply with the forthcoming rise in VAT, but the January 1 deadline remains. 

Stores will be able to sell products marked at the lower price for 28 days after the deadline, as long as they  inform customers via notices that an adjustment in price to take account of the VAT change will be made at the till.

The grace period allowed in law is 14 days, but the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills agreed to extend this after consultation with retailers' representatives including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Itheir response to the consultation,  ACS made clear that this concession will have limited impact in reducing the overall burden imposed by the change, which is due to come into affect on a bank holiday and one of the busiest trading season of the year.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This technical concession will provide some flexibility for retailers to continue trading while they change prices on the hundreds of products that are affected in their store. However retailers know that customers won’t accept incorrect pricing for long and so the pressure remains on to make the changeover on or before January 1st 2010.

“The best solution all along was to delay the changeover until after the new year trading period. As the Chancellor prepares his pre-budget there is still chance for him to rectify this glaring mistake.”