You may have noticed a new report from the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) called ‘Health on the High Street’. This rated each type of retail outlet or service based on four key areas: encouraging healthy lifestyle choices; promoting social interaction; allowing greater access to health care services; and offering advice and promoting mental wellbeing.
Surely convenience stores scored well on this criteria, right? Wrong. On the criteria of providing services, mental well-being and social interaction, we were deemed to be neutral. That simply can’t be right: just imagine the communities we serve without the local shop and all that we offer.
The key benefit our sector brings is reach. We’re a sector of more than 46,000 shops, but what sets us apart is that most trade on their own or on small parades. We take up this responsibility by offering not just essential food and traditional groceries, but an ever-broadening range of services that people need.
We bring together services that can’t be sustained in that location as a standalone business – for example, when banks shut their branch network, it’s local shops stepping into the breach through ATMs, Post Offices and other services.
This location and range of services makes us the main point of social interaction for every type of customer, providing vital defence against isolation, and I’m stunned that the RSPH hasn’t recognised this in its report.
It looks like ACS needs to keep making the case for convenience with policymakers, and that each of you needs to keep making it to your MP, councillors and other local influencers.