Convenience stores in Wales have invested more than £49m in improving their businesses over the last year, according to new figures released by the Association of Convenience Stores.

Today’s ACS 2018 Welsh Local Shop Report explores how independent store owners in Wales contribute to their local communities, as an employer, and to the Welsh economy.

Welsh convenience stores are more likely to be located in rural areas, more so than any other area of the UK. Around two thirds of all convenience stores in Wales (65%) trade in rural locations, playing a key role in supporting small and otherwise isolated communities.

The ACS report also found that there are 3,185 convenience stores in Wales, generating sales of £2.4bn in 2017. Convenience stores in Wales also provide around 25,000 jobs for local people and 84% of independent Welsh retailers were involved in some form of community activity during the last year.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores in Wales have strong community values, and consistently poll as the most engaged part of the UK when it comes to community activity. These stores are also significant investors, improving their offering to local customers through the introduction of services like contactless payment, free to use cash machines and Post Office counters in-store.

“The success of convenience stores in Wales can only be sustainable if supported by policies that help stores continue to invest. Business rates remain a significant cost for many retailers in Wales, so we encourage the Welsh Government to ensure that upcoming changes to the business rates appeals system are fair and learn the lessons of the troubled Check, Challenge, Appeal process that has already been introduced in England.”

Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Chair of the Cross Party Group on Small Shops, added: “I am delighted to host this launch event, highlighting the fantastic contribution of small shops to the Welsh economy. It is essential that we don’t underestimate the value of these shops to their local communities, and I will continue to promote the work of our dedicated shop keepers across Wales.”

The full Welsh Local Shop Report is available now on the ACS website