Investment across the convenience sector grew by £71m this year, but the ACS has warned this could fall due to rising cost pressures

During the launch of the 2022 ACS Local Shop Report last week, the trade body revealed that convenience stores invested £605m in developing their businesses over the 12 months, up from £534m the previous year. 

The majority of this investment came from the private reserves of retailers (62%), with 16% coming from a symbol group, 10% from a supplier, 6% from financial institutions and 5% from other business. 

The main areas of investment were dedicated to refrigeration (43%), shelving (29%), store signage (28%), internal maintenance (26%) and freezer space (22%). 

Commenting on the figures during the launch, ACS communications director Chris Noice said: “There has been significant investment this year due to changing layouts and anti-obesity legislation such as high fat, salt and sugar

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this figure were to fall next year. The top area of investment was refrigeration. Retailers were investing from their own reserves [and to prepare] for the energy crisis we’re facing, even with the government support that’s been promised

“Retailers are facing huge increases in energy costs and they’ve got to find the funding themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if investment drops as this is where retailers will look to keep their lights on.” 

Speaking on a panel during the launch, PayPoint corporate affairs and marketing director Steve O’Neill added that the company had not noticed a shift in customer spending in stores. 

However, he warned this could change during the winter as the public will rely more on heating and other utilities that have been hit by rising costs. 

Noice added that more ownership and running of stores is also being passed down to younger family members, with this being demonstrated in the increasing use of technology

This year’s report showed that a quarter of store owners were aged 30 or under, up from 21% the previous year. For 31-to-40-year-olds, this figure stayed flat at 24%. 

The gender balance also remained the same year on year, with men making up 67% of total store ownership. 

New technology introduced into stores included EPoS (74% of shops), a website (49%), in-store WiFi (33%), click & collect (29%), digital advertising screens (28%), parcel collection (26%), loyalty schemes (19%), self-service checkouts (12%) and digital shelf-edge labels (6%). 

The number of stores offering grocery delivery also increased from 22% to 24% during the period. 

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