A boom in online grocery shopping, as predicted by industry think tank IGD, is not expected to threaten the viability of small stores.

In its report Online Shopping 2009, IGD predicts that the value of the online grocery market will double in size to £7.2bn by 2014, and forecasts an annual growth rate more than three times that of the wider grocery sector.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch believes consumers will take a more "multi-channel" approach to shopping. She said: "Many are choosing to visit their local store on a regular basis, while purchasing bulk items, such as tinned foods and toiletries, online less frequently," she said.

Spar retailer Peter Sichel of Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, said: "Online ordering is not a priority for c-store shoppers, and I doubt it will ever be. The whole point of a local store is to offer a meeting point for the community. An online offer would undermine that."

West Country Budgens retailer Guy Warner added: "It's far better that c-stores continue to focus on their strengths of great customer service and local knowledge."