New research from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has shown the essential contribution that the UK’s petrol forecourts make to the economy, to working people and to communities.

The 2017 Forecourt Report highlights the continuing evolution of forecourts as both retailers and service providers, with stores often leading the rest of the convenience sector in key growth areas like food-to-go, coffee and technology in-store, such as free wifi and contactless and mobile payment facilities.

More than half (51%) of the UK’s forecourt sites are situated in rural areas, providing essential services to customers in otherwise isolated locations. Seventy eight per cent have an alcohol licence, with 27% having a late-night refreshment licence; 50% have a free-to-use cash machine; 43% offer parcel services; 88% mobile phone top-ups; 54% bill payment services; and 55% lottery.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "For thousands of consumers, petrol forecourts are the local shop, providing everything from post office and bill payment services, food and drink for the next few days, essential groceries, as well as being a place where they can fill up their car.

"Many forecourts are as much of a community hub as any convenience store, and are often leading the way when it comes to technological innovation. As consumers increasingly shop little and often and use convenient sites with high standards, the forecourt sector is well placed to meet their needs."

New to this year’s Report is a section on developments in the fuel sector, including the availability of electric charging points on forecourts across the UK and the growth of hybrids and plug-in electric cars.

Key findings from the report include:

8,430 petrol forecourts in the UK, with stores ranging from large convenience stores to small unmanned kiosks.
The forecourt sector provides over 109,000 jobs throughout the UK.
Forecourt stores generated over £4bn in convenience sales during the past year. Average spend was £5.60.
In the past year forecourt retailers have made significant investment in their businesses, with more than £12,000 spent per store on average on improvements.
465 electric charging points located on 225 forecourts, out of a total of 13,869 nationwide = 1%
55% of sites sell Adblue; 11% sell LPG.