The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Local Shop Report 2018 has revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of independent convenience store owners work more than 70 hours a week.

The report, launched today (September 11), also found that retailers are countering cost increases in their business by investing in services, opening for longer and employing more people on flexible part-time contracts.

The ACS estimates that nearly 365,000 people are now employed in the convenience sector, with 75% of people working fewer than 30 hours a week.

During the last year, the Local Shops Report also found that tobacco and e-cigarettes was the largest category for sales in the convenience sector, with a 20.4% market share (IGD 2018).

The ACS estimates that there are 46,262 convenience stores in mainland UK with 65% of investment in the channel funded from retailer’s own reserves. The top area of investment for c-store during the last year was refrigeration. (ACS Investment Tracker 2017/18).

Coffee machines were also popular among convenience retailers, with 30% of stores offering a customer-operated unit while 80% of those included in the report accepted contactless payments.

Commenting on the report, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The sector faces challenges, not least rising costs for employing people and doing business, but stores are responding positively, opening for longer, continuing to invest in improving their offer, particularly in refrigeration for chilled foods, and providing a more diverse range of products and services than ever before.

“The rise in part time working in the sector demonstrates the flexibility that stores offer to staff who come from within the local area, usually walk to work, and often have other commitments such as study or childcare. However, with stores offering more services, there are increasing opportunities for colleagues to develop new skills as part of their work. 

“All of this investment and innovation, and our growing relevance to consumers and communities, makes the convenience sector a huge contributor to the UK economy, adding £8.8bn of gross value added, and contributing £3.6bn to the public purse through direct and indirect taxes. The Local Shop Report is a snapshot of all the things our sector bring to society and the economy, and everyone working in the sector should be proud of the role they play in this success story.”