ACS urges government to “not leave rural shops behind”

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to provide more support for rural convenience stores as part of the levelling up agenda.

The ACS 2022 Rural Shop Report revealed that half of rural stores operate with no other service nearby including free to use cash machines (48%), local grocery delivery (26%) and Post Offices (22%).

The research also found that rural stores act as a lifeline for its customers as people would have to travel an additional 3.3 miles on average to get supplies to feed their families.

“Rural shops are a lifeline to thousands of communities and have gone above and beyond to ensure that they can keep providing essentials throughout all of the disruption caused by supply chain issues and the ongoing pandemic,” ACS chief executive James Lowman said.

READ MORE: ACS launches new Challenge 25 campaign to support local shops

“This is despite rural shops facing significant additional challenges compared to their more urban counterparts – thousands of rural shops do not have adequate broadband or mobile coverage, and many are at the farthest tip of their supply chains struggling to get a choice of supply and the full range of products their customers need.

“Providing targeted support to rural shops and other rural businesses must be integral to the government’s levelling up agenda to ensure that the gap between rural stores and their urban counterparts doesn’t widen even further.”

Minister for Rural Affairs Lord Benyon added: “Rural businesses are central to this government’s ambitious levelling up agenda.”

“This report illustrates the vital role which rural shops play in sustaining their communities, both through their significant economic contribution and as valuable social hubs.

“The report also demonstrates their fundamental resilience and the success of government initiatives to help such businesses keep going throughout the pandemic.”

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