Community-owned shops in the countryside are succeeding where private businesses have failed and have a 95% long-term survival rate, a new report reveals.
However, Community Shops: A better form of business, published by the Plunkett Foundation, says the rate of new openings has slowed.
It attributes the most likely reason for this to the increased difficulty community groups experience in accessing grants and securing premises as well as the increased complexity of the projects.
Community-owned shops are independent democratic businesses owned and ultimately controlled by their members on the basis of one member one vote, regardless of the number of shares owned.
The Plunket Foundation’s research shows there were 348 community shops trading in the UK providing essential services to 1,400 remote rural communities at the end of last year, generating a combined turnover of £54m and giving £125,000 to community projects.
Plunkett received 58 new enquiries exploring this model last year, 25 of which went on to receive further advice and support. At any one time in the year, Plunkett was supporting an average of 65 community shops in the pipeline.
Ten new community shops opened during the year - up 2.95% on 2015. The average start-up cost for these 10 shops was £83,000.
The pre-trading journey is taking longer, according to the report, which it says means the opening rate is slowing.
The largest proportion of community shops, 38%, are based in former village shop premises but increasingly communities have been establishing shops in converted premises and new builds.
Some 95% stock local food, 43% have a café, 59%, provide Post Office services, 48% home delivery, 18% collect prescriptions.
The report reveals that dairy and eggs were the most sold items last year, followed by bread and bakery, newspapers and magazines, soft drinks, cigarettes and tobacco, wholefoods and groceries, confectionery, and alcohol.
Examples include Clapham Village Store, North Yorkshire and The Burrow Community Shop and Café in Exbourne, Devon.