Sometimes it would be nice to know what the future holds. Whether the recession is well and truly behind us, for example, or even what the weather will actually do.

In its 2013 Local Shops Report, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) includes a section on the future.

It projects that the convenience sector will grow by 5.3% a year over the next five years. But the growth won’t be evenly shared out. The multiples and symbol groups are likely to do better than the unaffiliated independents.

One particularly interesting fact from the report is that there will be a ’continuing blurring of the lines’ as to what customers use c-stores for, including a greater overlap with cafés and takeaways, delis, pharmacies and post offices.

Luckily the forecourt sector is already embracing this ’blurring’ with many sites offering a multitude of services surely the ultimate example of convenience?

As for the shoppers themselves, the ACS states that increased demand for convenience shopping will be fuelled by changing demographics, particularly the growth in single-person households.

When it comes to product categories, the ACS found that fruit and veg was the fastest growing section with sales up 12% year-on-year. But it was tobacco that made the biggest sales contribution at just over 20%, followed by chilled foods at 13% and beers, wines and spirits at 12.5%.

Fruit and veg accounted for 6.3% of sales, which might not sound much but when you consider that confectionery only accounted for 5.9%, it’s a section that definitely deserves more attention.

I do love statistics, so I was interested in the fact that the average spend in a c-store is £6.04 and 87% of customers pay by cash. Obviously these figures are weighted to standalone c-stores rather than forecourts!

Most c-store customers (81%) travel less than a mile to get to their local store. Fifty seven per cent walk there while 39% drive, 3% take public transport and 1% use other modes a bike, scooter or horse perhaps?

Finally, c-store retailers are a hard-working bunch, with 57% of shop owners working more than 50 hours a week and 28% taking less than 10 days holiday a year. Makes me want a holiday just thinking about that.