FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

A newly published report reveals the enormous contribution that convenience stores in the UK make to people’s lives, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

It says its 2022 Local Shop Report shows that convenience stores are not just essential grocery businesses, but as job creators, community hubs and beacons of entrepreneurship.

This year’s report highlights the decisions being made in the UK’s 48,590 convenience stores in areas such as investment, staffing, product mix, technology and service offerings, and delivery.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Local Shop Report is our most comprehensive look at the UK convenience sector, providing crucial insight into the way that stores are run, the colleagues that are employed in stores and the communities they serve. The report is currently making its way to every MP in Westminster, highlighting just how important we are not only as a sector, but as individual businesses trading in just about every postcode across the UK.

“This year’s Local Shop Report shows the continued resilience of the convenience sector after the pandemic and in the early stages of the cost of living crisis. Local shops are well placed to support their customers during this difficult time through a diverse range of products and services, helping consumers manage their money and making a really positive impact in the communities that they trade in. We believe that the Local Shop Report sends a clear message about the importance of convenience stores, and the need to support them in difficult times, such as those that we’re facing into right now on energy costs.”

Key figures from this year’s report include:

  • there are over 405,000 colleagues working in the convenience sector, working a combined nine million hours a week on average;
  • 71% of stores in the convenience sector are run by independent retailers, either entirely unaffiliated or as part of a symbol group;
  • the convenience sector generated more than £45bn in sales over the last year, with that figure set to grow to over £48bn by 2025;
  • convenience stores have invested over £605m over the last year; and
  • 78% of customers agree that local shops are good for the environment, as more customers can walk to store.