ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) is the voice of over 17,000 rural shops, supporting our members through effective lobbying, comprehensive advice and innovative networking opportunities. Rural shops contribute £3.7bn in GVA and 126,500 jobs in rural communities.
ACS’ core purpose is to lobby Government on the issues that make a difference to local shops. We represent the interests of retailers on a range of issues related to the rural economy, including business rates, planning, Post Offices, employment, payments, services, product regulation and more.
Our membership includes a diverse range of convenience store retailers, from stand-alone family run independent stores to symbol groups to multiple convenience stores. These retailers operate in neighbourhoods, villages, on petrol forecourts and on high streets.
Most rural shops (54%) trade in isolated locations where no other business trades. This means they provide a lifeline for rural communities to access everyday goods and services, but also carry social value with almost half (42%) of rural customers knowing well the people working in their local shop. This value has been highlighted further by the pandemic. One-in-five rural consumers depend on their local shop more now than a year ago and rural consumers rank local shops as the most essential service for their local area.
Rural shops can be an important part of the levelling up agenda by providing a hub of services, which often bridge the gap between high streets and online or are no longer viable through specialist stores.
ACS conducts an extensive research programme, highlights include:
The Rural Shop Report brings together data from respected industry sources with brand new information about the entrepreneurs that run rural convenience stores. View our Rural Shop Report Pledge here.
The Community Barometer tracks the opinions of retailers, consumers and councillors on the services nearby, the policies that should be a priority in their area and the performance of their local councils. Our Community Barometer 2023 is out in August, so the 2022 one can be found here.
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