Convenience stores in Wales are overwhelmingly operated by independent retailers, generate £309m in sales and employ 25,000 people, according to a new Association of Convenience Stores report highlighting their contribution to the Welsh economy.

The ACS’ 2017 Welsh Local Shop Report reveals that 89% of Welsh c-stores are small business, while two-thirds are located in rural and isolated areas.

The report, which is due to be launched today at a reception at the Welsh Assembly, aims to encourage further government support for the convenience sector in Wales.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores in Wales are the cornerstones of their communities, with over half operating as the sole store in the area, providing vital services such as Post Office services and other staples such as mobile phone top up and lottery. Local shops contribute to local economies by creating 25,000 jobs, and to their local communities by collecting money for charity, supporting community events and sponsoring local sports teams.

“We call on the Welsh Assembly Government to support small shops in Wales, particularly through giving more shops full or partial business rate relief.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • 57% of convenience stores in Wales operate as an isolated store, with no other retail or service businesses close by
  • Convenience stores have invested over £53m in their businesses over the last year on improving their stores
  • 20% of Welsh retailers work more than 70 hours per week and do not take any holiday throughout the year
  • 89% of independent retailers in Wales have engaged in some form of community activity over the last year, making Wales the most engaged region in the UK in terms of community activity

Janet Finch-Saunders AM, shadow secretary for local government and chair of the cross-party group on small shops, said: “I am delighted to host this launch event in the Senedd building of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay. The contribution of small shops to the Welsh economy is immense – with over 3,000 stores providing more than 25,000 jobs, it is essential that we don’t underestimate the value such shops have to our local communities.

“Together with our other SMEs, small shops help to make up 99.9% of private sector business in Wales, and the Welsh Government must seek to support them using the variety of tools at their disposal, including – crucially – business rate relief.”

Ken Skates AM, cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, said: “I welcome this report which highlights the vital contribution that local shops make to Welsh life. They provide almost a third of a billion in Gross Value Added to our economy, a figure that has grown significantly over the last year alone, and are a valuable source of local employment, providing over 25,000 jobs to the people of Wales.

“We are committed to supporting small retailers across Wales to continue to serve the needs of our communities and will keep working closely with the Association of Convenience Stores and the sector more widely to make this a reality.”