ACS study: convenience stores provide 600,000 home deliveries a week

UK convenience stores have invested an accumulative £585 million in improving their businesses and services for customers over the last year, new research shows.

Much of that work has been undertaken to cope with the coronavirus crisis, with the sector now reportedly providing over 600,000 home deliveries a week and half of its UK shops offering ‘card not present’ payments to make it easier for consumers to shop for vulnerable friends and family.

These findings appear in the 2020 version of the Associated of Convenience Stores (ACS) Local Shop Report, which was published today (9 September), highlighting the contribution of 46,955 stores making up the convenience sector in the UK.

It found the convenience sector has generated £44.7 billion in sales over the last year, contributing over £10.1 billion in gross value added to the economy.

Around 412,000 people are employed in the sector, which has experienced a rise in revenue – partly as a result of the pandemic which changed some consumer habits, forced many 'non-essential' stores to close between March and June, and prompted more people to shop locally. ACS said two-thirds of retailers reported a year-on-year increase in sales over the lockdown period.

ACS CEO, James Lowman, commented: “The convenience sector’s role as a substantial job creator cannot be overstated.

“Retailers provide secure, local, flexible jobs that fit alongside other commitments like childcare and helping relatives. This is why job satisfaction in the sector is high, and more than half of the colleagues working in stores see themselves staying in a similar role in five years’ time.”

He added that the sector’s role as an employer “has never been more important”.

Google Trends data shows more customers searched for local shops on Google during the start of lockdown – the period between 23-29 March – than any other time in the last 12 months.

“When the UK went into lockdown in March, millions of people turned to their local shops to help keep them going with essential groceries and services,” Lowman explained.

“Retailers have done a stellar job of adapting and developing their businesses to keep up with demand, with no greater example than the incredible growth in home deliveries. We anticipate continued growth in the convenience sector in the coming months and years, as both new and existing customers keep coming back to their local shop.”