There are almost 17,000 rural shops in the UK, most of which operate in isolation with no other business nearby. As the only place for thousands of people to get local access to groceries and a wide range of services, rural shops are a crucial part of communities.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have published a report looking at the role rural shops play in people's daily lives as job creators, service providers and social hubs.
Highlights from the report include:
- Rural shops generated over £15bn in sales over the last year, contributing around £3.3bn in gross value added (GVA)
- Post offices and convenience stores are the top two services that have a ‘positive impact on a local area’ and also top two ‘most essential’ services – this is a great testament to the service branches provide to their customers and communities
- Banks, specialist food shops and post offices are the top three ‘most wanted services’ – this demonstrates how key the banking services offered by post offices are in rural communities
- Rural consumers report that the most valuable services offered in their local convenience store are cash machines, post offices and fresh food to go
- 45% of rural shops provide a free to use cash machine for local customers
Post Office colleagues from the Group Corporate Affairs and Communications team attended the parliamentary launch event for the report. Alice Cookson, Head of Public Affairs, said “The report demonstrates the importance of rural shops to the communities they serve. Post Office is rated as both an essential service and as having one of the most positive impacts on the local area. This highlights how valuable the services we offer are to rural consumers, and how dependent people are on our ability to operate in these areas, with the nearest alternative much further afield.”