Tuesday, 30 January 2018 08:45

Rural shops invest £315m in services

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural shops invest £315m in services

Rural shops across the UK have invested over £315m over the last year in services for customers, says a report.

Villages shops and other retail outlets have introduced services like contactless payment, in-store bakeries and Post Office counters, says the study.

The 2018 Rural Shop Report was released by the Association of Convenience Stores.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Rural shops have to deal with many of the same issues as other stores."

These issues include rising employment costs and crime, says the study – although village shops face unique challenges when compared to their more urban counterparts.

The study highlights the role that rural shops play at the very heart of communities across the UK.

It shows that rural shops are often the only place where customers in their local area can shop.

More than half of rural stores (57%) operate entirely on their own, with no other retail/service businesses close by, says the study.

A number of finding contained in the document detail how village shops meet the needs of rural customers.

There are some 19,164 rural shops in the UK, making up over a third of the whole convenience sector, it says.

In total, rural shops employ over 143,000 people.

Over the last year, these outlets have invested over £315m in improving and maintaining their businesses.

The report says slow broadband, poor mobile connection speeds and a lack of effective business rates relief remain serious concerns for rural stores.

Even so, shopkeepers are keen to invest in their businesses, offer more services, and use new technology to provide the service their customers need.

"Rural shops are crucial to the UK economy and to the often isolated communities that they serve," said Mr Lowman.

"We encourage Government to continue looking at ways to support these businesses and encourage retailers to invest."

The full report can be found at http://bit.ly/ruralshops2018

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