The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has highlighted the significant contributions made by rural shops to thousands of communities in UK.
Its 2024 Rural Shop Report showcases the vital role played by the country’s 17,986 rural shops, and explores how these shops serve as a reliable local employer, as entrepreneurs investing and working with local businesses, and as essential service providers.
The report found that rural shops employ more than 170,000 individuals, with a majority residing nearby and able to commute by foot.
It also showed that consumers see convenience stores as the most essential service in their local area, with some taking on services such as access to cash, bill payments and prescriptions.
Other key findings revealed that rural shops generated £17.1bn in sales and over £3.8bn in GVA over the past year.
With independent retailers being at the heart of their communities, it also highlighted that more than four in five are engaged in a range of different community activities over the past year.
In response to the recent report, the ACS has extended its efforts by engaging with MPs on the actions that the government can take to support rural shops and ensure that there’s a level playing field between rural businesses and their more urban counterparts.
Chief executive James Lowman commented on the report: “Rural shops make a huge difference locally, as a social hub, a stable employer, and a provider of essential services that would otherwise not be available at all. We are calling on MPs to help rural retailers in the battle against shop theft and abuse, to enable stores to continue providing access to cash for customers, and to level up the digital infrastructure that connects rural shops so that they can invest in modernising their businesses.”
Chief executive of Rural Services Network Kerry Booth added: “We are delighted at the Rural Services Network to be supporting the launch of the Rural Shop Report today. Rural shops play a critical role at the heart of our rural communities helping to reduce isolation and loneliness, and enabling residents to benefit from services that, due to poor connectivity or lack of transport links, they would be otherwise unable to access.”