The convenience store sector has bucked retail closure trends for the first six months of the year.

According to PwC and Local Data Company research, the number of convenience stores in Great Britain increased by 4.6% in the first half of 2012.

This growth is in stark contrast to other retail sectors which saw massive declines during the same period, with the number of home furnishing stores seeing a 36.7% decrease and gift shops suffering a 36.3% drop.

The LDC also recently revealed that the number of independently-owned retail outlets grew by 0.8% over the same period, compared to a growth rate of 2.4% in 2011.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson warned that independent retailers are still under threat despite the increase.

“This shows a major slowdown in the positive growth we saw at the end of 2011, which if continued, will see a return to the negative position of 2009,” he said.

Michael Weedon, deputy chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, called for action to help support independent retailers.

“The good news for all of us remains that independents are still saving the high street, by opening shops,” he said. “The bad news is that the rate of gain is falling - towns cannot rely on independents to boost their occupancy rates forever. Government, local and national, must support independents in every way they can, for growth, for jobs and for the sake of our towns.”