Retail associations have slammed Chancellor Alistair Darling’s Budget for failing to offer help to struggling retailers.

Among the key elements of yesterday’s Budget were a 2% increase in tax on alcohol and tobacco and a 2p rise in fuel duty from September, as well as steps to support trade credit insurance.

The Association of Convenience Stores warned that the Chancellor’s failure to prevent tax rises would hurt local shops.

“At a time when retailers need radical action to reduce costs, spur investment and create jobs, this Budget contains only crumbs of comfort,” said chief executive James Lowman.

“The failure to act on the looming threat of next year’s tax-hikes in business rates and national insurance will do nothing to bolster local retailers, who are crucial to economic recovery.”

Scottish Grocers Federation chief executive John Drummond agreed that there was little in the Budget to boost business within the convenience store sector.

“With a lack of measures to reduce taxation on businesses, a reassurance from the UK Government that the national minimum wage will remain at its current level until the economy improves would be welcome,” he added.

Jane Milne, business director at the British Retail Consortium, added: “The Budget left retailers still facing most of the people and property costs that will prevent new investment and threaten the viability of retailers and their ability to create and sustain jobs.

“Few share the Chancellor’s optimism that the economy will be growing again by the end of this year. It’s that crucial retailers are spared new burdens and support for the sector isn’t ended prematurely.”