Last week we launched the fifth edition of our centrepiece research project on the convenience sector, the Local Shop Report. The report shows that, overall, the sector remains in growth and employs about 390,000 staff across the UK.

However, for the first time since we started putting together the report in 2012, there has been a reduction in the average number of people working in each store, and a move to people working shorter part-time hours.

We believe the reason for this decline is as a result of cutbacks due to the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW). We know from conversations with retailers that they were planning to cut back staff hours, store investment and/or staff numbers as a result of the £7.20 wage rate, and it looks as though this is coming to fruition after the NLW’s introduction in April.

The data in the Local Shop Report gives us a detailed picture of what is happening in the sector at a national level, but one of the most valuable ways we use it is to find out specific information about the number of stores and staff in each constituency, which we send to every MP in Westminster to demonstrate the role that local shops play in their area.

We’re currently in the process of hosting dozens of store visits around the country to allow retailers to talk directly to MPs about the issues facing their store, which will culminate at Heart of the Community, our annual political conference.

If you would like to arrange a store visit with your local MP, or would like to meet them at the Heart of the Community reception on 11 October, email