The Scottish Grocers’ Federation is urging the Scottish Parliament to put pressure on banks to reconsider the needs of independent retailers and other small businesses.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema has given evidence to the Scottish Parliament Economy Committee on the Scottish bank closure programme which, compounded by other banking policies, is have a “devastating impact on retail businesses”.

He told the Committee that other banking challenges for retailers included charges for depositing cash, charges for card transactions and the reduced LINK interchange fees which are threatening the viability of free-to-use ATMs in convenience stores.

He said almost 80% of transactions in c-stores were in cash. “Increasingly retailers are suffering a cash penalty simply because they are providing vital services to their customers. Both the UK and the Scottish governments need to act on this now.”

SGF head of public affairs John Lee said banks were not responding to small businesses’ needs.

“Bank closures are one thing – it’s part of a bigger picture of cost pressures,” he told C-Store. “Convenience stores are fundamentally cash businesses, but if you want to deposit cash you have to travel further and then you get charged for it anyway. And if retailers want to move away from cash, there’s a surcharge for card transactions which retailers can’t pass on. Plus there’s the cut in the interchange fees by cash machine network Link. It’s one thing on top of another.

“We’re hoping that Parliament will help refocus the banks’ purpose, and help small businesses and the Scottish economy.”