Coronavirus shopper_GettyImages-1215276717

The convenience sector generated £44.7bn in sales over the last year, with two-thirds of stores reporting an increase in sales during lockdown.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) 2020 Local Shops Report reported that as well as the increase in sales, it provided jobs for 412,000 people across the UK.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The convenience sector’s role as a substantial job creator cannot be overstated. Retailers provide secure, local, flexible jobs that fit alongside other commitments like childcare and helping relatives. This is why job satisfaction in the sector is high, and more than half of the colleagues working in stores see themselves staying in a similar role in five years’ time. Our role as an employer has never been more important.”

The report also revealed that convenience stores have invested over £585m (down from £633m in 2019) in improving their businesses and introducing new services for customers, with the sector providing more than 600,000 home deliveries a week to local people and providing ‘card not present’ transactions, making it easier for volunteers to shop for those who are vulnerable or isolating.

On the investment side, refrigeration was the most popular area for investment followed by internal building maintenance and shelving.

Lowman added: “When the UK went into lockdown in March, millions of people turned to their local shops to help keep them going with essential groceries and services. Retailers have done a stellar job of adapting and developing their businesses to keep up with demand, with no greater example than the incredible growth in home deliveries.

“We anticipate continued growth in the convenience sector in the coming months and years, as both new and existing customers keep coming back to their local shop.”

Interested in learning more about sales in the sector? The Convenience Conference (5-9 October) will be holding an online panel session on this issue. For more information, register here.