Convenience stores have been praised for their “invaluable contribution” to communities after leading a poll on the “positive impact” of local services.
The study, commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), ranked 16 public amenities including pubs, cafés and gyms.
Pharmacies and post offices took second and third place.
Sources suggested local shops had become more important during the Covid-19 pandemic, while other businesses were closed and customers struggled to secure food.
On the question of the most essential services, convenience stores were ranked below pharmacies.
They also came third on the issue of reducing loneliness, behind coffee shops and pubs.
An ACS report last year showed a third of local shop customers know the staff either “quite well” or “very well”.
However, convenience stores slipped to fifth in their impact on house prices, trailing post offices, chemists, specialist food shops and cafés.
The ACS did not reveal how many people considered smaller shops their “most wanted” service.
Instead, it argued that the number of stores across the country meant they would inevitably finish in “the middle of the pack”.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said the results were “reassuring but not surprising”.
“Throughout the pandemic […] many have rediscovered their local shops and realised the huge breadth of products and services that they offer,” he continued.
“The findings of this report are a testament to the work that convenience store retailers and their colleagues have put in over the last year to keep their communities going.”
Lowman added that many of the popular services, such as post offices or pharmacies, could be found in convenience stores.
It comes after two major convenience store chains were “named and shamed” for paying their workers less than minimum wage.
McColl’s and One Stop Stores have collectively made £300,000 in back-payments to staff after being revealed as HMRC’s second- and third-worst offenders.