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    ACS: rural shops more important than ever to isolated communities

    iStock (Lizzie Maher)

    C-store body publishes latest Rural Shop Report

    ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) is celebrating the crucial role that rural shops play in thousands of communities across the UK as part of the launch of the 2024 Rural Shop Report.

    The 2024 Rural Shop Report, launched today in Parliament, outlines the difference that the UK’s 17,986 rural shops make as secure local employers, as entrepreneurs investing and working with local businesses, and as essential service providers.

    Key findings from the 2024 Rural Shop Report include:

    1. Rural shops employ over 170,000 people, the majority of which live very close and can walk to work
    2. Rural consumers see convenience stores as the most essential service in their local area
    3. Independent retailers in rural areas are at the heart of their community, with more than four in five engaging a range of different community activities over the past year
    4. Rural shops generated £17.1bn in sales and over £3.8bn in GVA over the last year

    The Rural Shop Report highlights the work that convenience retailers are doing to provide essential goods and services to their communities, but there are significant challenges facing stores trading in rural and isolated areas.

    As part of the launch, ACS is engaging with MPs on the actions that Government can take to support rural shops and ensure that there’s a level playing field between rural businesses and their more urban counterparts.

    “Rural shops make a huge difference locally, as a social hub, a stable employer, and a provider of essential services that would otherwise not be available at all,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman. “We are calling on MPs to help rural retailers in the battle against shop theft and abuse, to enable stores to continue providing access to cash for customers, and to level up the digital infrastructure that connects rural shops so that they can invest in modernising their businesses.”

    Rural Services Network chief executive Kerry Booth said: “We are delighted at the Rural Services Network to be supporting the launch of the Rural Shop Report today.  Rural shops play a critical role at the heart of our rural communities helping to reduce isolation and loneliness, and enabling residents to benefit from services that, due to poor connectivity or lack of transport links, they would be otherwise unable to access.”

    The full 2024 Rural Shop Report is available here

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