Convenience retailers have invested £177m in their businesses in the period between February and May 2015, according to new figures released by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Overall, more than one in four stores (28%) surveyed said that they were planning to invest in their store, an increase on both 2014 (24%) and 2013 (21%).

Regionally, more stores are planning to make investments in south-west of England than anywhere else in the UK (35% making some investment), while the lowest levels were found in the North West, with 22% making investments.

The ACS Investment Tracker showed that the most popular form of investment in stores was refrigeration, suggesting that many stores are adapting their product ranges to include more fresh food and ‘food to go’ such as sandwiches and fruit and veg – the latter of which has been shown to be the fastest growing category in convenience stores for the last two years running.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “These figures show that retailers are making investments in their stores to ensure that they can provide a wide range of goods and services to meet the needs of busy modern consumers. The sector overall is currently in a very strong position and our research suggests that it’s a great investment for entrepreneurs – 75% of independently run stores are operated by first time investors.

“On average, independent retailers reported a spend of just over £2,500 per store over the last three months, but there were also a number of stores that had made significant investments running into hundreds of thousands of pounds to ensure that they provided the best offering for their customers.

“As the new government prepares for a budget on 8 July, continues its review of business rates, and embarks on its wider legislative agenda, these figures show that policy makers should support local shops as crucial drivers of investment, jobs and growth.”