Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the economy returned to growth in the third quarter of 2012, but local shops did not benefit from economic growth according to a survey by the Association of Convenience Stores.

Their Voice of Local Shops survey, which was conducted between July and September, reveals that only a quarter of retailers had seen sales increase over the quarter, and only a quarter have seen cash profit growth over the past year, with only one in five retailers based in the North and Scotland showing cash profit growth.

However, the survey also showed some signs of optimism returning, with 40% of retailers expecting sales growth in the coming year, compared to only 22% expecting a decline; and 38% of retailers planning to invest in new or existing stores.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops are still struggling to achieve growth in sales, and rising costs are driving down cash profit. These challenges are even greater in the North of England and Scotland.

“There is evidence that local shops are looking to invest and there is fragile but encouraging optimism about the future. These stores matter to communities, and their survival and growth needs to be nurtured just as much as the manufacturing, financial and technology industries that often attract the greatest media and political focus.”