The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland announced on March 21st 2019 a regulation that aims to support the survival of local village shops in Finland. The number of shops in rural areas has decreased for several years in a row, and the future of these shops starts to be in a critical situtation. The new regulation offers financial support during the year period 2019-2021 to village shops that develop their operations towards offering multiservices as well as at least one pre-specified service apart from the selling of goods. 

With the regulation, Ministry seeks new ways to develop and remain availability of retail services in rural and rare populated areas. Ministry has specified certain terms that shops have to fulfill for getting the support, including aspects like location, distance to next nearest shop and amount of annual sales. Shops getting the support are also supposed to operate year around.

Regional council of South Karelia took a chance to express the importance of topic and influence to content and terms of regulation. In February 2019 we made a statement that called for higher flexibility in service offer. In statement we expressed, that local communities and shops would benefit more, if entrepreneurs had a freedom to specify themselves the offered services. This opinion was shared widely among other public and third sector bodies. Although the regulation in final form not allows such a freedom, the number of required added-services decreased form 2 to 1. This result hopefully increases the attractiveness to re-design and test new forms of sale.

We see the support as a good act in supporting the local shop survival and retail competitiveness and hope to hear of the experiments and learnings of it during 2020.

Author: Regional Council of South Karelia