Convenience store retailers are feeling much more optimistic about the future, with more planning to invest in their businesses than at any time over the past two years, the Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACS) Voice of Local Shops survey reveals.

According to the latest quarterly survey, one in four retailers are planning to invest in store improvements over the coming year.

“These figures demonstrate retailers’ optimism for the future, and give a promising indication that economic recovery is being felt by the everyday entrepreneurs running local shops in communities up and down the country,” chief executive James Lowman said.

“Despite tough competition and tight margins, local shops are backing their communities with hard cash and jobs.”

The number of retailers planning to increase staff hours has also continued to rise in the quarter, and is up significantly from February 2013 when many retailers were still planning to cut jobs as a result of tighter margins.

Tthe survey of 1,000 retailers also found that experiences of crime were continuing to fall. The number of retailers who have experienced some form of theft has fallen to 75% in the three months to November, however, this was still too high, Lowman added.