The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has highlighted the need for stronger regulations on energy suppliers that would provide businesses with clear and transparent information on billing, payment options, data transparency, contract terms, and termination.

In its submission to Ofgem’s review of the non-domestic gas and electricity market, the ACS called for an extension definition of microbusinesses to include a wider group of small businesses, such as convenience stores, to allow these businesses access to greater support and guidance when navigating the energy market and negotiating their contracts.

The trade body also called for new regulatory support for businesses burdened with excessive energy bills, particularly those who signed a fixed contract during peak wholesale energy costs, by allowing them to blend and extend their contract to reflect the current wholesale price.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This is yet another review where Ofgem are tinkering at the edges of the issues that businesses, including local shops, are facing in regards to their energy contracts.

“We have made repeated calls over the years for Ofgem to provide small businesses with greater regulatory support and we know that retailers are still having difficulties in navigating the energy market as they contend with a lack of information which then makes it impossible to compare and switch contracts.”

The ACS estimates that there are a total of 6,900 independently owned convenience stores that are currently stuck in excessive fixed contracts that are putting their businesses, as well as the jobs of over 46,000 colleagues, at risk.

Ofgem aims to publish findings and consult on proposed next steps in early summer 2023 and will seek to action any reforms identified that do not need licence changes from summer 2023.