ACS chief executive James Lowman

The government has been urged to support businesses in their recovery from the pandemic in evidence provided by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The submission was in response to a call for evidence on commercial rents and Covid-19 by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The outcome of the call for evidence will determine the government’s next steps after existing pandemic-related support measures for tenants are set to be withdrawn on 30 June. These measures include the banning of commercial lease evictions or debt recovery where debts are due to the pandemic, while winding up petitions and statutory demands which threaten court action cannot be used.

In its submission, ACS recommends targeting measures based on financial impact to support convenience stores most affected by the pandemic.

The submission also outlines three principles for next steps: business support should not be prematurely removed, the new framework must be mandatory, and the outcome must be implemented quickly to instil landlord and tenant confidence.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops are lifelines for their communities, providing access to essential products and services but Covid-19 has not affected all convenience stores equally. The pandemic has been immensely challenging for convenience stores trading in city centres, high streets and transport hubs that are more reliant on passing trade.

“It is vital that the government continues to support these businesses to survive beyond the pandemic to ensure that they are still able to trade. It is also crucial that the relationship between landlords and tenants is put on a sustainable footing with retailers given the opportunity to re-establish their businesses after a harrowing period.”