Shoppers believe that having a local shop within easy walking distance is more important than ever during a recession, according to a poll conducted by GfK NOP on behalf of the Association of Convenience Stores.

The poll of 1,000 adults revealed that 55% of shoppers think that having a local shop within five minutes' walking distance becomes more important in a difficult economic climate. However, 34% of those polled believe that there are fewer local stores in that position now compared with five years ago (24% said there were more, 40% said no change). Overall, 78% of shoppers said they lived within five minutes' walk of a local shop.

The survey accompanies a separate study carried out by Newcastle University Business School and Lancaster University Management School on behalf of the ACS, recommending that government intervene to ensure all consumers should have a small store within five minutes' walk of their home.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "One of the key findings of the research is that consumers want easy access to local shops."

l The My Shop is Your Shop campaign has created window posters encouraging customers to walk to the shops. See p10 for more details.