Convenience retailer advocacy group in B.C. decries Premier’s “attack on convenience stores"

Independent convenience retailers say they are threatened by government-induced challenges and lack of consultation.
Tom Venetis head shot
British Columbia Legislature Building
Photo: B.C. Government

The advocacy group Retailers 4 Safe Communities/ Convenience Retailers Alliance has released a statement saying asking British Columbia’s provincial government to “end its attack on convenience stores and give them a fighting chance at survival. Convenience retailers are also growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of consultation on major issues affecting the sector.”

"Independent convenience stores are a cornerstone of neighbourhoods and communities across B.C. Think of how many times you visit a neighbourhood store to pick up essentials, and now imagine life without that convenience. That is the reality if the government continues its assault on convenience stores," says Ray Chan, independent B.C. retailer in a press release.

According to the group, independent convenience store owners are faced with several business challenges resulting from provincial government decision-making around illegal tobacco coming into the province and rules around the sale of flavoured vaping products in convenience stores.

READ: B.C. convenience stores unfairly targeted in new nicotine pouch restrictions

"Convenience stores have repeatedly been told to diversify away from tobacco. We have tried with vaping products and nicotine pouches, and in both cases, we were kneecapped by the province. In the case of pouches, the decision to ban sales in convenience stores was done overnight without any supporting evidence and without any consultation," adds Chan.

The group is asking that Premier Eby take several initiatives going forward, including a plan to deal with illegal tobacco, illegal vaping products and illegal nicotine pouches; to level the playing field for the retailing of vaping products, allowing convenience stores to compete with vape shops for business; and repealing the ban on convenience stores selling nicotine pouches.

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