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Convenience stores are used to adapting when the rules change, and the last two years have shown that retailers are fantastic at changing swiftly to ensure that their business can continue trading effectively, not just through the restrictions forced by the pandemic but also significant recent developments like the introduction of Natasha’s Law and fuel grade changes on forecourts. As we now hopefully look beyond any issues in stores associated with the pandemic in 2022, preparation has begun for the next big shift in the way that we can set out our stores and promote products to customers as we count down to the introduction of HFSS restrictions in October.

This legislation, which aims to restrict the location and promotion of over a dozen product categories, will affect thousands of stores and will require many to carry out a fundamental rethink of their strategy and the way that their store is laid out. The rules on both where you can put products and which promotions are allowed are complicated, so it’s crucial that you know you’re going to be on the right side of the law come October, because the enforcement community are going to be looking at this issue specifically when they’re out visiting stores (it’s not confirmed yet whether they’ll be bringing a tape measure with them, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility). 

The good news is that there are exemptions for stores with a relevant floor space of under 2000 sq ft, and for those with fewer than 50 employees, but as with everything, it’s not quite that simple. The Government’s intention is to include symbol and franchise stores within the rules, so the ’50 employees’ definition could include everyone working in stores under a symbol fascia. This is a live issue right now so if you’re a symbol retailer contact your group for clarity on whether you’re included.

We’ve been working on this issue since its inception several years ago, and have now launched a comprehensive guide for retailers which details every step of the process to ensuring that your store is compliant. In the coming months there are likely to be more questions on interpretations of tiny details of the rules, and we’ll be covering those as well through our partnership with Surrey and Bucks Trading Standards. If you think there’s a chance that you’re going to be in scope of these regulations, our guidance can help. Just go to to download the guide, and get in touch at acs@acs.orguk, or on Twitter @ACS_localshops with any questions.