New research published by ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) sheds new light on the economic and social contribution local shops make to communities up and down the country.

The paper ‘Small is Beautiful: The Community Role of Local Shops’ marks the culmination of a two-year collaboration between ACS and the University of Oxford that include detailed case study research into different stores serving different types of community.

It provides a new framework that is useful to researchers, policy makers and retailers in understanding the ways in which local shops interact with the community. It outlines several themes that have emerged from the retailers and consumer insights and provides examples of how they are being met:

Gathering – bringing local people together, this happens every day through interactions in the shop but also through community events.

Customising – meeting the specific needs of the community and specific individuals and groups within it.

Giving – through a range of financial and in kind contributions to important local causes.

Leading – taking on a leadership role in the community through formal engagement in local associations, business partnerships and community groups, as well as informally through action to address local concerns or problems.

ACS has also unveiled a new toolkit for retailers based on the findings of the project.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This research provides an academic rigour to concepts that are very familiar to anyone that is involved in our industry or uses local shops.  It shows that there is immense value both in ensuring there are local shops in every community, but also that being an excellent community retailers requires effort and planning.

“I am particularly pleased that the outcomes of the research are practical and can be applied in member businesses. We will be working to raise awareness of this toolkit and our Community Masterclass event amongst our members.”

ACS will be bringing together retailers to discuss the outcomes of its research projects and their implications at a Community Masterclass event taking place on November 28.

Retailers looking to book their place at the Community Masterclass should contact Sarah C Johnson on 01252 515001.