Leading independent retailers are split over whether the new licensing act, which will give retailers the freedom to apply for a 24-hour alcohol licence in 2005, will benefit their stores.

In a survey of The Grocer’s Top 50 independent retailers, 73% said they were in favour of the act, 50% thought it would increase retail alcohol sales and 33% said it would be profitable to open 24 hours.

One retailer believed the new licensing laws would drive profitability and sales of alcohol in forecourt and urban stores. Another was totally against any change: “Opening after 11pm would only cause noise and nuisance in and around our c-stores, adding little profit but causing distress to staff and neighbours.”

But some retailers saw the change as a step in the right direction. “I’m in favour of the change as it is a first step to the removal of the current archaic system of licensing. Alcohol is a staple part of the grocery mix yet it is subject to a plethora of rules and regulations,” said one respondant.”