Costcutter Warley_Shopper at counter customer service

The importance of convenience stores when it comes promoting local growth has been highlighted in new research from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The 2024 Community Barometer revealed that UK people believe that convenience stores rank top among 16 different local services for supporting the local economy, creating jobs and stimulating investment – followed by pubs/bars, and restaurants in second and third place respectively.

The research also examined the services that people are most in need of locally. Despite the growing popularity of online banking and a perception of cash being less prevalent in society, the most wanted service on UK high streets was banks, followed by specialist food shops in second and non-food shops (for example hardware stores) in third.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Communities across the UK clearly recognise the importance of their local convenience store in providing secure and flexible employment, supporting the local economy, and driving investment in a wider range of services.

“Our Community Barometer provides a blueprint for the kind of diversity of businesses people want on their local high streets, and highlights the need for crucial services like banking, prescription collections and Post Offices – many of which are already housed within convenience stores.”

Peter Batt, managing director at Nisa, said: “It’s no surprise that today’s ACS report finds convenience stores to be an essential community service and the number one driver of local growth and job creation; we see day in day out the important role independent retailers play in their local communities, and it’s telling that their entrepreneurial spirit is recognised across all communities. We hope consumers continue to recognise this value by shopping locally, so our retailers can continue to prosper and remain at the heart of our communities for years to come.”

Post Offices were found to be the service that had the most positive impact on their local area amongst consumers, followed by pharmacies in second and convenience stores in third. The same three services also ranked in the top three when asked about what was the most essential for local people, with pharmacies ranked first, Post Offices second and convenience stores third.

Commenting on the findings Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “Postmasters are at the centre of their local communities up and down the country and we’re delighted that the ACS findings have recognised the impact Post Offices, and by extension our postmasters, bring to people’s local area. Thousands of entrepreneurial postmasters combine running a successful convenience store alongside a Post Office ensuring residents and businesses have access to a range of essential products and services for long hours during the day and on weekends. Whether it’s everyday banking, sending important letters and parcels or paying a bill, postmasters provide a reassuring, friendly and knowledgeable service.”

The report also revealed what people believe should be a priority in terms of investment in their local area.

The top priorities were seen as:

1. Public spaces, for example local parks

2. Community projects, for example youth centres

3. Community policing (this was ranked number one among those aged 45 and over)

Lowman added: “One of the top priorities for the new Labour Government will be to look at ways to improve the way that people feel about their local communities. A diverse range of services is part of that solution, but it’s clear that investment is needed in local community engagement and a stronger police presence. We urge the Government to look at supporting local growth not just in terms of town centres, but in the villages, high streets and smaller parades where people live, work and shop.”