The Association of Convenience Stores has called on the government to help secure the future of the UK’s 19,128 rural shops
Its The Rural Shop Report 2017 states that rural stores are often the only places where customers in their local area can get essential goods and services. 59 per cent of shops operate entirely on their own, with no other retail/service businesses close by.
It also argues that rural shops play a strong role in the community, with one in five owners having run their store for over 25 years. There are now 347 community-owned shops in the UK, primarily run by volunteers that have come together to provide the service in isolated areas.
The recommendations to the government include topics such as addressing the lack of fast mobile data coverage and asking for them to deliver on high speed broadband for rural stores.
James Lowman, ACS chief executive said, “Rural shops are facing rising costs in many areas of their business, including increases in wage rates for staff, revisions to the business rates valuation that penalise investment, and an uncertain future for the thousands of stores that run post offices in isolated areas. For rural stores, they have to deal with these issues while also being hampered by a lack of fast mobile connectivity and unacceptable broadband capacity.
“The government must ensure that all rural shops are given the right conditions to be able to trade successfully. Without their local store, thousands of customers in rural areas would have no access to post office services, essential groceries and other services like bill payments.”