We recently launched the 2018 Local Shop Report, providing new information to government (and the wider retail industry) about the importance of the UK convenience sector.

This year the main shift has been in the way that stores employ people. Overall, the sector employs almost 365,000 people, providing flexible employment for people who typically live close to work, and who are juggling childcare and looking after other family members.

This flexibility shows up more than ever this year. The average number of people working in each store has actually gone up, but the total hours worked has gone down, enabling retailers to off-set increases in costs, notably the National Living Wage. 

The balance here is fine. Jobs and hours can only be cut back so far before staffing levels fall below those needed to run the store effectively.

The sector mirrors changes in the UK’s employment market as a whole, but I would argue that it is an example of greater flexibility. Colleagues will have times when they can work more or less, retailers tweak their rotas to cope with absence and busy periods and, because most colleagues live locally, that flexibility works for them.

The Local Shop Report also tells us that our colleagues value their jobs, and that most want to stay in their roles or continue their career within the sector. The real proof of the value of jobs in the sector is that many colleagues have been with us for years.

Overall, the report paints a positive picture of a sector that is still investing, still putting in new technologies and services, and is more relevant to the everyday lives of consumers than ever.