The forecourt convenience sector was worth £3.6bn last year, according to the latest report on the sector by the Institute of Grocery distribution.

The figure represents a 14 per cent increase in sales since 1999 despite a 1.5 per cent decline in forecourt convenience store numbers over the same period.

The report states the average weekly sales in a company managed forecourt store has increased from £7,148 to £10,967 in 2002 – a 50 per cent increase.

“Improved store formats, expanded ranges such as top-up and foodservice, and a general focus on convenience, are all driving this improved performance,” says the report.

The average size of forecourt stores has also increased significantly in the past few years from 570sq ft in 2000 to 733sq ft in 2003 – a 29 per cent increase. With an average sales density of £14.97/sq ft/week, the forecourt segment has the greatest sales density across the entire convenience sector– its sales density has also seen the greatest percentage increase since 2000.

In the longterm the IGD suggests the forecourt sector will continue to grow in line with the convenience sector, and by 2007 will account for 18.2 per cent share of the convenience market in terms of store numbers and 17.2 per cent in terms of value. Meanwhile competition in convenience will intensify.