We recently launched our 2019 Forecourt Report, which looks at the latest developments in the sector and how fuel retailers have been responding to these changes. One ongoing development that has been a hot topic among customers and businesses has been electric vehicles. This year’s report has shown that while there are now around 230,000 plug-in cars and vans on UK roads, forecourts currently provide 1,083 charging points. The decision to put in an electric charging point on a forecourt remains a difficult one, especially with the pace of change of technology and the speed of charging developing constantly. Retailers will be forgiven for wanting to wait so that the tech they do invest in doesn’t become redundant within years or even months.

One of the things that stands out in this year’s forecourt report is the role of forecourts as service and community hubs. Forecourts are established as the primary local shop for thousands of consumers, so it’s unsurprising that retailers are investing in their stores to ensure that they provide their customers with essential services.

This is particularly notable when you consider that 52% of forecourts are isolated stores, meaning they may be the only place that the people in their community can go to pick up groceries or pay bills.

The community role that forecourts play is something that I think is seriously under- appreciated compared to the rest of the convenience sector. More than three-quarters of forecourt retailers are engaged in their community in some way, and it’s not just collection boxes at the till.

Our Local Shop Report also showed that a typical c-store is open from 7am until 10pm, but in the forecourt sector one in four independents and over three-quarters of multiples are open 24 hours, presenting very different challenges when it comes to staff and utility costs, replenishment and ranging.

Overall, we believe that the Forecourt Report demonstrates the importance of this sector, and we will continue to engage with government to ensure that they see the whole picture when thinking about legislation that affects fuel sites. You can read the full Forecourt Report at ACS.org.uk.