The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is urging independent retailers to seize "a springboard into the new parliament" by inviting their new MP to visit their store.

ACS chief executive James Lowman told 400 delegates at its Summit that the next few weeks would be the time to show new MPs the pressures local shops face, and to have "a sensible discussion about the facts".

Of the new intake of MPs, 43 signed ACS' 'Small Shops Pledge', and Lowman maintained that ACS would be reminding them of their commitment at every opportunity as the lobby group focuses on its three main targets of reducing costs, tackling crime and ensuring a fair deal for small businesses.

ACS chairman and Nisa-Today's chief executive Neil Turton agreed that tackling violent crime, along with encouraging the banks to lend money to small businesses, was a key priority. "If these issues are not addressed retailers will start to ask themselves if they are prepared to open a new store, or whether they would want their children to go into the business," he said.

Turton also warned of tough times ahead as public spending cutbacks put price back at the top of the agenda, at the same time as a rising cost base for small stores.

'What we have in our favour is the ability to adjust," he said. "Independents can make a difference, for example by delivering in a way which the bigger stores can't."