The vital role that the UK’s 7,402 forecourt shops play in their local communities, through providing secure local jobs, providing access to essential services and taking time out of the business to support local projects, has been revealed by a new report.

The 2019 Forecourt Report from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) shows that more than three quarters (77%) of independent forecourts engaged in some form of community activity over the last year, not just through raising money for charity, but also by sponsoring local sports teams, being part of litter picks and donating to food banks or other food charities.

The forecourt sector overall is now worth £4.1bn, with stores providing jobs for around 92,000 people across the UK.

The Forecourt Report has revealed that independent forecourt retailers are making significant investments in their businesses, investing more than twice the amount over the last year on average (£14,463 per store for indie forecourts) than independent retailers in the rest of the convenience sector (£7,181 per store).

The majority of independent forecourt retailers (73%) are also funding investment from their own reserves.

Speaking at the launch of the report, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The forecourt sector has long been recognised as providing an essential service for motorists, but it’s clear that modern forecourts are innovative, community-focused retailers in their own right, make a real positive difference to the places where they trade and in many cases are leading the rest of the convenience sector.”

Other key findings in the report include:

• there are around 223,000 plug-in cars and 8,500 plug-in vans on UK roads;

• there are 1,083 electric charging points currently available at a total of 334 forecourt sites in the UK;

• 50% of forecourts offer a hot food to go counter or cabinet;

• 28% of forecourts provide a parcel collection point for customers; and

• one in four independent forecourts are open 24 hours.