Hundreds of independent retailers have called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to can proposals for a soft drinks tax, warning that it will devastate their businesses while failing to tackle the UK’s obesity problems.
As part of the NFRN’s Day of Action against the Sugar Tax on Friday September 16, thousands of shopkeepers have been displaying posters in their stores that warn that a potential 58p price increase on a two litre bottle of a sugary soft drink could result in the closure of local shops and job losses.
By the following Monday more than 200 retailers had filled out a postcard to Hammond registering their objection to the proposal and saying no to the tax.
A further 100 plus have written to their MP expressing concern and warning that a levy would not be an effective answer to tackling obesity. The letter goes on to advise that 4,000 jobs will be lost across the industry while already hard-pressed independent retailers will lose on average £8,100-a-year in sales as a result of the tax. However, daily consumption of sugar will be reduced by less than half a teaspoon.
Meanwhile, in an NFRN poll on Twitter nearly three quarters of respondents (72 per cent) agreed that the proposed sugar tax was pointless.
Other retailers have been inviting Ministers and MPs into their stores to discuss first-hand the negative impact that a sugar tax will bring.
John Parkinson of Premier Broadway in Llandudno told Guto Bebb, Minister for Wales, that coming on top of the National Living Wage and pension auto-enrolment, the sugar tax could devastate the businesses of independent retailers.
NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “We and our 15,000 members recognise that the obesity problem must be tackled and we support the government’s desire to do so. But what we want is a solution that will not have such a detrimental impact on small shops.
“It is pleasing to see so many retailers already getting behind our campaign to get the Chancellor and MPs to face the fact that a tax on sugary soft drinks will threaten the future of local communities.
“But it is early days and as time goes on we expect more members to join in by either writing or talking to their MPs to convey a very clear message to the Chancellor: that he must can plans for this harmful and unnecessary tax.”