The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has provided evidence to two Parliamentary inquiries which explore the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and the food supply chain, highlighting the vital role that local shops have played in feeding communities.

The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s inquiry looks at the impact of the outbreak on businesses and workers.

In its submission, ACS highlighted the vital role that local shops have played in providing essential products to customers, recognising the support that the Government has provided so far. In the submission ACS made a number of recommendations including: directing PPE to key workers, extending the cash grant scheme to cover more stores, protecting shop workers from retail crime and sustaining the ATM network.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have seen how our sector has quickly adapted to ensure that our stores can continue to serve their communities while ensuring the safety of colleagues and customers. From introducing home delivery services and card not present transactions to dedicated shopping hours for NHS workers, our colleagues have been working tirelessly to ensure that their communities can continue to access essential products and services.”

“We welcome the Government’s recognition of local shops as essential businesses and our colleagues as key workers and it is vital that these businesses continue to receive the support that they need in order to serve our communities.”

ACS also provided evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs inquiry into the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the food supply chain relating to access to healthy food during periods of self-isolation and how disruptions in the food supply chain should be managed.

In the submission ACS outlined that supply issues that convenience retailers have experienced, which has meant that retailers have sought new supply routes by working with suppliers and to hospitality and other industries to ensure that they can resolve availability issues and meet the demands of their customers.

ACS also raised specific issues where the development or delivery of a number of areas could have been more effective, including the extension to delivery hours and relaxation of competition law.