Young people most keen for more convenience stores

Young adults want more convenience stores in their local area than any other age group, according to ACS’ Community Barometer 2023 report

Convenience store shop aisle generic

A survey of a thousand shoppers in the newly released report shows 30% of 18-24 year olds want more convenience stores, compared to only around 20% of pension age adults.

Similarly, the youngest adults were the most likely to believe their shop ‘acts as a community hub’, ‘reduces loneliness’ and provides a safe space to people at night.

The ACS said the results break the stereotype that only older customers value the presence of convenience stores. ACS chief executive James Lowman explained: “The importance of convenience stores to older customers is well-documented… but these figures show that on areas like reducing loneliness, local shops are incredibly important to young people as well.”

In a sign that stores could benefit from better responding to these younger shoppers, despite them having the most positive perception of local shop, they were the least likely to feel like they knew their local shop’s team very well – such as being on a first name basis, at just 4%. In comparison, three times as many 45-54 year olds said they have this kind of close relationship with their local shop.

Peter Batt, managing director of Nisa, told Better Retailing: “It is telling that the average customer visits their local store nearly three times a week, and younger consumers are shown to equally recognise their [local store’s] contribution. An independent retailers’ unique ability to adapt their offering to fit the wants and needs of their local community is key.”

The results of the Community Barometer 2023 may be a surprise to some, who feel older customers are more likely to see convenience stores as being a safe space and having a positive impact on the local area. Julia, owner of Bywater News in Dudley, said she finds the case to be “the other way round”.

“The older people who have relied on us…for years, they tend to find it’s a safe place. The youngsters that come in – they tend to be the ones [the older people] are trying to shield from. [The young people] don’t care about stores in any way, shape or form.”

Read more: Independent stores welcome police pledge to tackle all shoplifting.

The role of convenience stores

Highlighting the importance of convenience stores in local areas, 87% said they had convenience stores in their local area, and ranked the service as the third most essential feature for the community, and third for having the most positive impact. It fell behind pharmacies and Post Offices in both instances. 

Lowman continued: “UK consumers are sending a very clear message that a diverse range of local services are essential to the wellbeing of their communities. Convenience stores are increasingly acting as service hubs, including Post Office counters, prescription collections and banking services within their businesses, which are highly valued by their customers.”

In a sign of how local shops are perceived on addressing the cost-of-living crisis and sustainability concerns, while 70% said convenience stores help cut down on car journeys, only 40% said that local shops help people manage their money by shopping little and often.


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