C-stores ‘vital to UK economy’

Woodlands local convenience store

The 2015 Local Shop Report has revealed the vital contribution that local shops make, both to the UK economy and the consumers who rely on them.

Newly published by the ACS, the report offers fresh knowledge about the value that local shops provide their communities, as well as key information about the entrepreneurs that run stores, their staff and the market as a whole.

Key findings from the report include:

  • There are now 51,524 convenience stores in mainland UK, making up a sector that is now worth £37.7bn, a growth of 5% on 2014.
  • The value the convenience sector adds to the economy in Gross Value Added is just over £5bn.
  • Local shops are a vital source of employment – nationally, the convenience store sector provides jobs for over 407,000 people.
  • Local shop owners are some of the hardest working people in the UK – 25% of shop owners work more than 70 hours per week on average, and 20% take no holiday at all throughout the year.

The report reveals that retailers are continuing to embrace new technology, with growth in contactless payment, in-store bakeries, click-and-collect services and store loyalty cards. For the first time, the report also shows how engaged with their communities stores across the country are. Across the UK, 83% of retailers have been involved in community activities like collecting for charity, sponsoring local teams and providing support for local events over the last year.

ACS Chief Executive James Lowman commented: “The report demonstrates that the convenience sector is continuing to adapt to meet the needs of customers. By diversifying their offering in store and the services they provide, they have firmly established themselves at the heart of their communities.”

Lowman said the report was an incredibly valuable tool in engaging with Government: “We will be sending reports and individual constituency cards to every MP in the UK to ensure that they know the value of the convenience sector and the importance of people who run stores in their area.”

The report follows on from last month’s Community Barometer in which the ACS found that convenience stores and post offices were seen to be the services which had the most positive impact on a local community. Coffee shops, pharmacies and specialist food shops followed close behind.