The latest figures from the Association of Convenience Stores have shown an increase in investment over the last quarter, but concerns about the impact of rising employment costs.
Convenience stores across the UK invested £193m in their businesses between March and May, which is an increase on both the previous quarter (£154m) and the same quarter in 2016 (£181m).
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Despite uncertainty on both a domestic and international level, convenience store owners have remained committed to making investments in their stores to reduce costs in the long term and provide a better service for consumers. Some convenience stores have taken on specialist services like bakery counters, post offices and even pharmacies that would otherwise not be offered to local customers, all of which require investment to be successful.”
Elsewhere in the survey, more retailers have reported that they are cutting staff hours than last quarter, after the National Living Wage was raised to £7.50 per hour in April.
One in four retailers have invested in till systems over the last quarter, which when coupled with the decrease in the number of staff hours in the sector could suggest that investment is being made in self-service tills, he suggested
He added: “Many retailers now have to strike a difficult balance between using technology in their business to make their stores more efficient, and retaining the personal touch that the sector has been traditionally known for. These decisions will have to be made on an individual basis, but with employment costs continuing to rise we expect more stores to look for efficiencies in the near future.”
In total over the last year, the convenience sector has invested £858m on business improvements, refurbishments and store refits.