Local shops found to be more valuable than ever

The 2016 Local Shop Report has revealed the essential role that convenience stores play in the modern retail landscape, with stores more relevant than ever before in consumers' lives.

Published by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) the report demonstrates the value that local shops provide their communities, both in terms of investment and making a positive difference to their local area. Key findings from the report include:

There are 50,095 convenience stores in mainland UK, making up a sector that is worth £37.5 billion, a growth of over £400 million on 2015.

Local shops are a vital source of employment; across the UK, the convenience store sector provides jobs for 390,000 people, but the number of staff employed in each store has fallen, and more staff are working part-time hours.

Convenience stores have invested over £600 million in their businesses over the last year on improving their stores.

The report reveals that part of the reason for the success of convenience stores is their ability to adapt. More than one in four stores (28 per cent) now provide parcel services with 10 per cent offering a click and collect service and some even introducing services like dry cleaning and key cutting in store, showing that thousands of stores are embracing the challenge of attracting consumers who primarily shop online.

Local shops provide jobs

ACS chief executive James Lowman says that the number of jobs that the sector provides has stood out once again this year, with convenience stores now employing more than 390,000 people, providing local flexible jobs to people who are juggling other commitments like child care and studying.

‘For the first time since we started this research in 2012, we have seen a decline in job numbers as well as more staff working part-time hours. This is consistent with the feedback from other ACS surveys showing retailers cutting back on staff hours to cope with the big increases in wage costs, not least because of the National Living Wage.’

The number of staff per store has fallen from 7.91 to 7.76, equivalent to over 3,000 jobs.

The report also reveals that convenience store owners are some of the hardest working entrepreneurs in the UK, with 24 per cent of retailers working over 70 hours per week and 22 per cent taking no holiday at all throughout the year.

Lowman adds, ‘Running a successful convenience store requires a lot of hard work and a strong connection to the local community to ensure that the store stays relevant. We need help from Government to reduce the cost of doing business to help these increasingly important shops open and thriving in communities up and down the country.’

Related: What will the future high street look like?

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.