The AACS is the voice of the convenience industry and 2020 marks its 30th anniversary.
AACS began the year gearing up for a celebration – not of itself, but of the convenience industry as a whole. Obviously the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our Association would soon turn out differently. The world took an unexpected, unprecedented turn. But your Association remained busy in the first quarter.
We began the new year updating the public about the state of our industry, the value we provide consumers in a changing retail landscape, and the issues our members still require support on. Media interviews were coordinated on radio, in trade press and in publications such as The CEO Magazine.
One of the ongoing issues we advocate for is least-cost routing, ensuring the big banks make cheaper payment alternatives available to retailers small and large, including convenience stores. We are moving towards a cashless economy and it’s vital that transaction fees are kept as low as possible for our members, so AACS made a submission to the Reserve Bank of Australia as part of its Review of Retail Payments Regulation to reinforce our position.
We also continued to press Government for a stronger response to violent crimes committed against stores. This work is ongoing but the acknowledgment from some law enforcement jurisdictions that these crimes require a stronger judicial response is encouraging.
At a time when the severity of the coronavirus outbreak was only beginning to reveal itself, the issue of wage theft was front and centre for our industry.
AACS prepared a submission to the Victorian Government’s Engage Victoria in relation to the Consultation Paper for the Wage Theft Bill 2020, pointing out that there’s an opportunity to simplify awards in a way that does not in any way diminish an employer’s obligations to their staff.
In the media, AACS was vocal in February highlighting anomalies in liquor laws, supporting access to least-cost routing and calling out police inaction relating to a series of disturbing incidents experienced by a regional Victorian store.
March 2020 will be long remembered as the month the world changed. For AACS, it began with writing to the Treasurer and the Small Business Minister outlining the role convenience stores can and will play in the future, and the support our industry needs as various stimulus packages were being devised.
Being declared an ‘essential service’ by Government as other industries and sectors were ordered to close their doors was a major victory. The direct engagement AACS had with Government during this critical time was instrumental to our stores not only being permitted to continue trading but being viewed as a preferable place for people to buy the items they need.
This lobbying will continue. Ensuring open supply lines of critical products to our channel is an ongoing focus. The message that convenience is open, safe and ready to serve communities across Australia is one you’ll keep hearing from AACS.
Our future agenda
AACS has done considerable work over the years highlighting the differences in the value proposition of convenience stores compared to the major supermarkets.
In the current climate, we understand the motivation for supermarkets to seek to sure up their supply chain and the case for them to remain open for longer. We also know the supermarkets are very adept at taking advantage of shifting circumstances.
The AACS will keep a close eye on the majors’ attempts to seek authorisation to work together in securing their supply lines and to make permanent any temporary approval to extend their opening hours. We will ensure your voice is heard by the appropriate politicians and in the appropriate forums.
The coronavirus will shift the goalposts for all industries, forever, convenience included. Small businesses will need support in different and, at this stage, perhaps unknown ways in order to get back on their feet and be competitive.
Where convenience is concerned, the AACS will continue to work with members to identify the opportunities and guard against the threats of the new way of doing business that is coming.
For more information on AACS and the issues on our agenda, contact email@example.com