Amit Puntambekar with elderly customer

A new report has found that convenience stores are the service that has the most positive impact in local communities, followed closely by pharmacies and post offices.

The 2021 Community Barometer, published today by the Association of Convenience Stores, looks at how people feel about the services that are available to them locally, and the impact that they have on key measures like reducing loneliness, how positive an impact they have on the community and how essential they are. Some of the 16 services people could choose from included restaurants, pubs/bars, pharmacies, specialist food shops, coffee shops, non-food stores, and pharmacies.

When asked about which services were the most essential to have locally, pharmacies came out on top, followed by convenience stores, post offices, banks and petrol stations.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “It’s reassuring but not surprising that local shops and other services are as essential to people’s daily lives as ever. Throughout the pandemic, and even now with more people working from home on a long-term basis, many have rediscovered their local shops and realised the huge breadth of products and services that they offer, as well as their invaluable contribution to the wider local community. The findings of this report are a testament to the work that convenience store retailers and their colleagues have put in over the last year to keep their communities going.”

For the first time this year, the Community Barometer looks at which services have a positive impact on house prices locally. With significant movement in the property market over the last year, people are more keen than ever to ensure that the services in their local area provide a boost to the value of their property.

The top five services that have the most positive impact on house prices are: Post Offices, pharmacies, specialist food shops, coffee shops, and convenience stores.

Amanda Jones, Post Office Retail and Franchise Network Director, said: “I welcome the findings from this report which reflect what we have seen over the past 18 months of the pandemic. Many people have relied on their local convenience store for food shopping or home deliveries, as well as the Post Office services that can be found in thousands of convenience stores across the country. So many people have been impacted by the pandemic and we’re aware of the important role post offices play in helping to combat loneliness in particular. We’re proud of postmasters who serve millions of customers every week. For some people this may be their only face-to-face interaction with another person. Postmasters will continue to be at the heart of their local community making sure people have access to important services.”  

Mr Lowman continued: “Many of the positively viewed services in this report, such as post offices, coffee shops and pharmacies, are featured within modern convenience stores, especially in rural and isolated areas where there’s only one place for people to go to get their essentials locally. In other locations, our members are part of a mix of businesses all tailoring their offer to local customers and working together to help maintain vibrant and safe local communities.”

The full ACS Community Barometer report is available here.