The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on retailers to lobby their MPs in the run up to the next general election, as the sector continues to face up to the impact of government policy.

Although a vote could be called sooner by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the next election can occur no later than 28 January 2025.

Speaking at the recent Convenience Conference, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “In this next 18-month election cycle it’s a very important time for organisations like ours, but also for individual businesses to talk to their MPs.

“As your candidates, they’re seeking re-election so it’s the best time to get your points across.”

The calls came as the convenience sector continues to face instability over government policies including DRS and HFSS.

Since the conference, it has been revealed that proposed promotional restrictions on products high in fat, salt and sugar, which were due to be implemented in October, would be delayed until 2025.

Any proposes increases in the national living wage will also be felt strongly by convenience retailers.

Lowman expressed particular concern about the impact of the election cycle on policy affecting the sector.

“What worries me with regards to national living wage as we approach the next election, is that you’ll get a ratcheting up of promises,” he continued. “What wins votes is saying the highest number, which is quite an unhelpful dynamic.”

Lowman’s comments came alongside more positive news around the HFSS promotional ban, which is having a very limited effect on sales in convenience stores.

He said that although high levels of inflation had made it difficult to determine the precise effect of the regulations, the impact on business remained low.

Despite this, Premier retailer Mo Razzaq remained frustrated with the continued government intervention. “I’m getting a bit tired of the government involvement in retail legislation,” he said. “We’re spending more time abiding by the guidelines than we are doing business, and that’s a major problem.”