The convenience sector needs to to grasp its opportunity to influence future government policy as election candidates compete for their vote, say its trade associations.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said the election was an opportunity to remind the politicians about how important stores are to the communities they serve. “Local shops that meet the candidates and share their views can make sure politicians know their concerns and build relationships that will make a difference after the election,” he added.

ACS has identified 10 key policy areas, including minimum wage control, action on business rates and support in planning disputes. It has launched an Election Centre at its website,, to provide information and analysis on the parties’ plans and how they affect the sector. 

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents’ agenda includes calls for a Competition Commission investigation into the newspaper wholesale market, the tobacco display ban regulations to be revisited and minimum pricing to prevent supermarkets selling alcohol below cost price.

National president Suleman Khonat said: “We don’t want government to prop up an old-fashioned and dying sector that has had its day, but we do need recognition of the value of independent retail micro-businesses, and new measures to maintain diversity and choice for consumers that cloned ‘express’ supermarkets do not offer.”

The Forum of Private Business believes that recent legislation has made many smaller businesses frightened of hiring or even advertising for new staff, and says redressing the balance between employers’ and employees’ rights should be among the next government’s key priorities.

It is demanding immediate action to increase the amount of credit available to small firms from lenders. Longer term objectives include improved competition among energy suppliers and easier switching between them.