Independent shopkeepers launched a stinging attack on competition regulators this weekend, accusing them of using flawed data to prove that small stores are not being damaged by the rise of the big four supermarkets. Sunday Times

The Association of Convenience Stores said this weekend that it had not ruled out taking the commission to the Appeals Tribunal if it is unwilling to rethink its position.

The group, which represents 33,000 small shops, claims the regulator used the wrong data to prove convenience-store numbers were rising, when in fact they are falling.

James Lowman, the ACS chief executive, claims the commission has used flawed data to dismiss its arguments that supermarket expansion has damaged the small-shop sector.

The ACS had argued that the huge buying power of the supermarkets and aggressive pricing activities, such as using discount vouchers to woo customers away from local rivals, were driving small shops out of business.

But the commission’s preliminary findings, which were released last Wednesday, dismissed its worries.

Lowman told The Sunday Times: “We can’t allow an inquiry of this magnitude to be decided by data that are so flawed.