The crucial role that convenience stores are playing in the nation’s recovery has been highlighted in new research published today by Southampton University, as part of the work of the Future High Streets Forum and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The report suggests that despite pressure from out-of-town retailers and online shopping, many high streets are succeeding as convenience stores adapt their ranges and offer more services to busy consumers.
The report has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores, a member of the Future High Streets Forum. ACS research shows that the convenience sector is outgrowing the rest of the retail sector and is now worth over £35bn. There are now just under 50,000 stores across the UK, employing almost half a million people; 77% of convenience stores in the UK are still operated by independent retailers.
More than one in four stores now offers grocery delivery, while over two thirds offer bill payment services – filling key service gaps on the high street.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The average consumer is much more likely to shop for food every day and engage with services than they were ten years ago. This change in consumer behaviour, coupled with a population with a much larger elderly segment has given convenience stores the opportunity to thrive.
“Despite the success of our sector, there are still issues that need to be addressed by Government. Convenience store investment is still being held back by a business rate system in desperate need of review, and planning rules are being ignored at a local level by councils keen to allow out of town development at any cost.”
The Southampton University report can be viewed at thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk.