FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The high level of investment by forecourt owners in their businesses has been highlighted by the 2022 Forecourt Report, published today by the Association of Convenience Stores.

It reveals that last year on average £18,000 was spent on each of the UK’s 8,379 forecourts, compared with around £10,000 spent by convenience stores that don’t sell fuel.

Across the sector, the most common form of investment is refrigeration, with stores either looking to expand their range of fresh and chilled goods or upgrade their refrigeration to make it more energy efficient.

Half of the forecourt stores in the sector have doors on their chillers, with more than a third (39%) using LED lighting and 8% using solar panels to reduce electricity costs.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “It’s essential that the government recognises the crucial role that forecourts play in their communities. These businesses are community hubs in their own right, providing essential services and an ever-increasing range of products for customers along with fuel and alternative power solutions. The energy support package that has been provided to forecourts has been a lifeline for many, and we encourage the government to include forecourts within the list of vulnerable sectors that need longer-term support.”

Key findings from this year’s Forecourt Report include:

1. The UK forecourt sector creates over 84,000 jobs, with around one in four colleagues (23%) being in the business for more than 10 years

2. 69% of forecourt retailers are active in their communities, raising money for local charities, getting involved with local projects, and donating to food banks

3. One in five customers of forecourt stores visit every day (21%), with four in five (80%) visiting at least once a week

4. There are currently 768 electric charging devices located on 446 forecourt sites across the UK

5. Average fuel prices peaked in July this year, at 188.6p for petrol and 197.3p for diesel

Lowman added: “This has been a turbulent year for fuel supply and pricing, with international events determining the price that consumers pay at the pump. It is encouraging to see that fuel prices are trending downward after peaking in the summer, especially as everyone is looking to cut costs where possible.”