The race is on to persuade the Competition Commission (CC) to rethink the preliminary findings from its Grocery Market Inquiry, published last month.
Representatives of independent retailers have until November 23 to comment on the remedies suggested by the CC and until the end of the month to question its findings.
Shane Brennan, public affairs and communications manager at the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said the trade body would be pointing out several issues where they disagreed with the Commission's views. "We don't understand how they have come to the conclusions they have over some of the numbers, and we question the data sets they have used," he told Convenience Store.
"They have also found that the buying power of the larger retailers does not have a competitive effect on smaller stores, but there is evidence in the report of this kind of distortion. We need to draw the team's attention to the 16% buying price advantage mentioned and ask why they have chosen not to take it into account."
The ACS will also ask for clarification on the CC's decision to look at strengthening the Supermarket Code of Practice, given its assertion that there is no evidence that activities such as vouchering and below-cost selling are predatory tactics targeted at smaller stores. "If they are doing nothing wrong, why do their practices need controlling?" Brennan asked.
He continued: "The political response has been one of disbelief - MPs can see for themselves the trend of decline in small stores."
He said the ACS had not ruled out the possibility of legal action over alleged procedural flaws in the Inquiry team's investigation.
Retailers have a role to play, he added, by writing to their MP and urging them to make their constituents' views known to the Commission.