We have recently published the third edition of our annual look at the convenience sector, the Local Shop Report, which contains some great new insights into local shops, the people who run them and the communities they serve. The main story from the report is one of good news the sector is now worth £37.4bn, and is responsible for creating over 386,000 jobs in local communities across the UK. This is a significant increase on last year and means that c-stores have again outgrown the grocery market as a whole.

One of the changes that we made for this year’s report was to represent a forecourt store on the cover instead of a traditional convenience store. This decision is indicative of the way that the forecourt sector has developed over recent years many forecourts consider themselves to be c-stores first and fuel sellers second, and offer a much wider range of products and services than they did just a few years ago.

Symbol groups still have the lion’s share of sales but this year’s report has highlighted that forecourts have steadied the ship after a decrease in sales in 2013, contributing £4bn to the convenience sector in 2014.

For the first time this year, we have been able to take a detailed look at the services that stores are providing. Bill payment, Post Offices and Click and Collect are all services that are increasing their presence, along with services designed to meet the needs of busy consumers, such as coffee machines and hot food counters, which are especially prevalent in forecourt stores.

The fastest-growing category in stores for the past two years has been fruit and veg, which now contributes around £2.4bn to the sector alone. ACS has worked hard with retailers over recent years to promote the healthy eating messages of Change4Life and we’re delighted to see that this is translating into an increase in sales.

Over the coming weeks, we will be taking the findings of the Local Shop Report to every MP in Parliament with detailed information about the stores in their constituency and the people that those stores employ.

The whole report is available free to download from the ACS website at www.acs.org.uk, or if you would like a constituency card with more detail about your area, give us a call on 01252 515001.