New research from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has shown the essential contribution that the UK’s petrol forecourts make to the economy, to working people, and to communities.

The 2017 Forecourt Report highlights the continuing evolution of forecourts as both retailers and service providers, with stores often leading the rest of the convenience sector in key growth areas like food to go, coffee and technology in-store.

Key findings from the report include:

• There are currently 8,430 petrol forecourts in the UK, ranging from large convenience stores to small unmanned kiosks;

• The forecourt sector provides over 109,000 jobs for people throughout the UK;

• Forecourt retailers generated over £4bn in sales over the last year;

• Forecourt retailers have made significant investment in their stores over the last year, with over £12,000 spent per store on average on improvements to the business;

• Over half (51%) of the UK’s forecourt sites are situated in rural areas, providing essential services to customers in otherwise isolated locations.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “For thousands of consumers, petrol forecourts are the local shop, providing everything from post office and bill payment services, food and drink for the next few days and essential groceries, as well as being a place where they can fill up their car.

“Many forecourts are as much of a community hub as any convenience store, and are often leading the way when it comes to technological innovation. As consumers increasingly shop little and often and use convenient sites with high standards, the forecourt sector is well placed to meet their needs.”

New to this year’s Forecourt Report is a section focusing on developments in the fuel sector, including the availability of electric charging points on forecourts across the UK and the growth of hybrids and plug-in electric cars.