Look back at the high street 30 years ago and you’ll find plenty of specialist stores like butchers, off-licences, bakeries and post offices providing a single service to consumers in most high streets, parades and villages.
Fast forward to today and, while there are far fewer of those specialists, the products and services they sold are still widely available, as convenience retailers have incorporated them into their stores, making our sector more relevant and important than ever.
More recently, we are seeing cafés and pharmacies moving into the convenience store package of services, and I expect this to continue.
One of these services, the post office, is currently under scrutiny from Government in the form of a consultation looking at the future of the network, including the further integration of post offices into convenience stores through ‘local’ and ‘main’ models.
The Government wants to maintain a wide-reaching network, and they have a manifesto commitment to secure the future of 3,000 rural post offices.
As staffing costs rise and margins get tighter, how do we make the economics of running post offices work for everyone?
There is no doubt that both post offices and convenience stores play an essential role in communities across the UK.
Our research shows that the public, MPs and local councillors all believe that post offices have the most positive impact on a community, followed closely by convenience stores, so there is clearly a benefit to combining the two services.
However, if these services can’t be provided commercially everywhere the Government wants them, then how much should they be subsidised by Government, and can retailers be expected to fund these services out of the rest of their business?
As staffing costs rise and margins get tighter, how do we make the economics of running post offices work for everyone, including the communities we serve?
This consultation process is a good chance to get your views across, and to present a full picture of the benefits and the challenges of offering Post Office services in convenience stores.
Tell us what you think about the role of post offices in convenience stores, and if you have one in your store, what has been your experience? Get in touch with us via email by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.