Independent newsagents are calling on the government to close an unacceptable loophole that allows supermarkets to buy up and convert pubs into smaller convenience stores without planning permission, according to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).
The appeal from the NFRN came as a new report revealed a decline in retail outlets.
National president, Alan Smith, said: “The NFRN urges the government to take heed of the figures released today in the BRC’s retail employment monitor which indicate the first ever decline in the number of retail outlets since the study began. Most worryingly of all, the report states ‘supermarkets, continuing to open smaller-format stores, are masking the potential of a much sharper decline. Without them, total shop numbers would have fallen further’.”
Calling for the government “to be bolder in its policy making”, Smith said: “The NFRN would urge ministers to close the planning loophole used by supermarkets to buy up pubs, which are closing at record levels, and open small-format shops without the need for planning permission. This aggressive strategy of directly competing with independents, at a time when micro businesses are struggling to secure bank lending, is responsible for the decline in independent retail outlets.
”Government must act fast to compel banks to lend to SMEs, protect pubs and amend the change of use planning laws if it is genuinely interested in halting the decline of independent retailers any further.”
Source: National Federation of Retail Newsagents