The number of local retailers considering making investments in their stores has increased, reveals a new survey conducted by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS). 

In a rare sign of economic good news, the ACS Voice of Local Shops Survey reveals that over the past three months, the number of retailers considering investing in their existing store or buying new stores has risen to 36% (an increase of nearly a third). The number of retailers intending to increase the number of paid staff hours in their business has nearly doubled to 23%.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Current trading conditions are tough, but with an important trading summer ahead independent retailers are showing signs of optimism and thinking about their long term sustainability.”

The survey also shows an increase of over a quarter in the number of independent retailers reporting a sales lift in the past three months. However, there is a marked difference between retailers in the south of England (27%) and those in the North (18%) who have experienced an increase, and the majority of local shops are still reporting flat or declining sales.

Crime remains a particular problem for local shops with 91% having been the victim of shop theft and more than 21% having experienced an increase. Also, three out of four have experienced some form of verbal abuse of physical assault in the past year. 

Lowman continued: “Crime remains a fact of day to day life for too many local shops. Hard working retailers at the heart of their communities should not have to deal with criminal activity with such frequency, and it is up to the Government to enforce tougher penalties for offences against shop workers.”