Nine out of 10 local shops say they are actively involved in engaging with their community, according to the latest ACS Voice of Local Shops survey.

With the UK economy continuing to stagnate, the role of community engagement for local shops has become more important.

The Bank of England’s latest quarterly report predicted no growth in the UK economy in 2012, and only four in 10 retailers are expecting sales growth in the next quarter, the Voice of Local Shops survey revealed. Only 26% of retailers reported sales growth in the past three months.

However, the survey also revealed the highest level of community engagement since the start of the survey in February this year.

“These latest figures show that as times get tough for communities, the local shop plays an even more important role,” ACS chief executive James Lowman said. “That may be through collecting for charities, providing sponsorship to community projects and events, or playing an active role in local council meetings. Civic leadership through effective community engagement is absolutely essential to the success of modern convenience stores.”

Jonanthan James, who has just held three community fun-days celebrating local British food at two of his Cambridgeshire stores, said community engagement was one of the most important parts of his business plan.

“I call it sustainable community retailing. Anyone can write a cheque for the local football club or chuck a bottle of wine into the tombola. For me it’s about so much more than that and it should be for others too. It’s about holding community fun-days and hog-roasts and local supplier tastings. That way your store becomes a community hub that links lots of different people and organisations together. There’s great strength in that,” he said.