The Association of Convenience Stores has launched the 2014 edition of its Local Shop Report, which is used to give politicians, campaigners and suppliers a quick reference guide to the contribution made by local stores to the UK economy and to society as a whole.

The report shows that the local store sector employs 386,710 people, an increase of more than 3% on last year. Convenience store numbers and sales are also in positive growth.

The report is compiled from industry information provided by organisations such as HIM, IGD, Nielsen and William Reed Business Media, owner of C-Store, as well as from a bespoke store survey commissioned by ACS. The data shows that local shop owners are some of the hardest working people in the UK - 23% of shop owners work more than 70 hours per week on average, and 20% take no holiday at all throughout the year. Altogether, 77% of stores are run by small business owners, with three-quarters of these identified as first-time investors rather than inheriting a family business.

Among specific product categories, fruit & veg has seen the biggest increase with sales up 8.4%, while news and magazines has seen a decline of 4.5%. Chilled food is now the number two category accounting for 13.2% of sales, behind only tobacco.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This report is an incredibly valuable tool in engaging with government. We will be sending reports and individual constituency cards to every MP in the UK to ensure they know the value of the sector and the importance of people who run stores in their area.

“Retailers are adapting to customer needs by offering a huge range of services. The sector now caters to almost every type of consumer, providing coffee and food to go, parcel services and technologies such as contactless payment, to name a few. ”