Sir; As an independent shopkeeper, I welcomed the support of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, which warned that corner shops as we know them may have disappeared entirely from the UK by 2015.
Much of the group’s concern focused on the large supermarkets introducing smaller outlets in local communities that are squeezing out the small corner shops.
If only it were that simple. There is another reason - and that is tobacco smuggling, which continues to blight the streets of Britain.
Illegal sales of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco undercuts the profits of legitimate retailers such as myself. A recent survey by Retailers Against Smuggling found that one in five corner shopkeepers were considering closing as a result of the effects of tobacco smuggling on sales.
While I agree with the warning of the APPSSG that the government needs to realise that as long as the UK’s tax rate on tobacco is so wildly out of line with the rest of the EU, tobacco smuggling will continue.
A smuggler needs no greater incentive to carry out his crime when a packet of 20 cigarettes costs just 39p in Latvia, compared with £5.05 in the UK.
Our survey also found that 74% of independent shopkeepers said they believed that the only way to stop the tobacco smuggling problem was to reduce or freeze taxes.
Clearly I am not alone in my views on this.