The challenges faced by retailers and colleagues since the lockdown, and the changes that they have made in store to keep their communities going are revealed in findings from a survey by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The ACS Covid-19 Impact Survey shows that while two thirds of convenience stores have seen sales increase in the last two months, a third have seen a fall in sales with 26% reporting that sales have fallen significantly.

Forecourts, city centre stores and those near transport hubs are the most likely to have been negatively affected, with neighbourhood and rural stores likely to have seen an increase in sales.

The survey highlights the work that retailers have done to adapt their businesses since the start of the lockdown. Home delivery has been a huge growth area for the sector, with 62% of stores now providing some form of delivery service. Convenience stores now complete over 600,000 deliveries a week.

Additional key findings from the report include:

• 37% of retailers report that supply into their stores has been impacted to a very large extent;

• more than half of stores (56%) offer card not present transactions, enabling volunteers to shop for vulnerable people locally;

• just 4% of retailers have received a loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme; and

• violence and verbal abuse has increased in 40% of stores.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops have done a phenomenal job in adapting their businesses to support their communities during the lockdown. Retailers have introduced social distancing measures to keep customers and colleagues safe on very short notice, and new services like home delivery have ensured that vulnerable people, especially those in rural and isolated areas, can still get essential groceries.

“There are however two sides to the story in our sector. There are thousands of stores that have seen business drop significantly because of where they are, so it’s essential that those businesses take advantage of all of the Government support that is available to them.”

The ACS Covid-19 Impact Survey was carried out between 13 April and 1 May and includes a sample representing 4,896 stores.