Retailer optimism has grown for the second quarter in a row, the latest quarterly findings of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Voice of Local Shops survey show.

The survey of 1,210 retailers also revealed a rise in store owners planning to invest in their stores, with almost 20% planning to do so this year.

There is also a “welcome ongoing increase” in the number of stores reporting no incidents of shop theft, the survey found.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Optimism fell dramatically after last July’s budget, but it is now rebuilding steadily. Hopefully George Osborne’s extension of small business rate relief, and defeat of plans to extend Sunday trading hours for large shops will give further grounds for optimism, but the introduction of the National Living Wage next month will hit local shops hard, and we are concerned that this quarter’s expected increase in staff hours will be difficult to sustain.

“The recent sales performance reported by retailers puts their optimism in perspective. We have hit a two year low in terms of the number of retailers reporting a decline in sales, and while the mild, wet winter may explain this in part, it shows that this is a tough sector where retailers have to earn every bit of growth.”

The full results from the Voice of Local Shops Survey result can be found at