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Metric Culprits

Business Issues

The BWMA Guide to the 2004 Trading Standards Metrication Concordat is essential reading for retailers using British units of measurement. Click here for further information.

Links The Business position on metric
Dual metric-lb/oz scales
Retailer's Survival Guide to Metric Law

Issue summary

There is a clear delineation in the business community between those that support compulsory metric conversion and those that do not. Those which oppose compulsory metric conversion include all manner of businesses: village shopkeepers, high street stores, national chains, international exporters. These businesses believe there are sound economic grounds against adopting metric, and for retaining customary units.

The stance of the British government - that business supports the compulsory use of metric - is a contradiction in terms; if business wanted to go metric, regulations compelling them would not be necessary.

British businesses have made their position on metric clear; they want metric as an option, not a compulsion. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for instance, advocates "choice for businesses in the matter of metrication". Manufacturers and retailers want choice between the two systems because, while metric is useful for some purposes, it is an obstacle and burden for others.

For instance, metric is not appropriate where it does not reflect manufacturing specifications.

The unpopularity of metric means that the total removal of customary units cannot happen unless the government resorts to coercion. This gives rise to another business concern; the use of criminal penalties to enforce metric. Thousands of traders such as grocers, butchers, fishmongers, market traders, village shops and confectioners have been forced to undertake the costly exercise of converting or replacing weighing equipment and labels.

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