Convenience stores are playing a key role in the high street recovery, according to new research from Southampton University.

The report found that many town centres were experiencing a retail resurgence despite the competitive pressures of internet shopping and out-of-town stores.

It said convenience retail in town centres had experienced significant growth over the past 15 years, a growth sustained during the economic crisis and subsequent period of austerity.

That trend is expected to continue over the next five years, with convenience stores accounting for a quarter of the entire grocery market by 2019.

Welcoming the report, Association of Convenience Stores 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 10 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.”

ACS research shows that the convenience sector is outgrowing the rest of the retail sector and is now worth over £35bn.