There are over 47,000 convenience stores across Britain operating in urban, suburban and rural locations. This means convenience stores have a unique reach into every community, unlike any other business sector. Retailers are proactive in supporting their communities with 80% of independent retailers engaging in some form of community activity over the last year. Convenience retailers are positive actors in the fight to tackle loneliness, consciously or unconsciously, due to their place at the heart of the community serving people from all backgrounds and demographics.

ACS is supporting retailers to combat loneliness locally and is a member of the Government’s Employers’ Leadership Group and Tackling Loneliness Hub. ACS is also a founding signatory to the Tackling Loneliness Champions Pledge.

ACS is committed to:

  • Producing a wellbeing guide covering issues including strengthening relationships and connections with and amongst colleagues
  • Sharing data on the impact of loneliness and information about how retailers can combat loneliness in the workplace.
  • Supporting sociable workplaces by showcasing retailer best practice via ACS’ member events programme.

Understanding Loneliness

Research from the Co-op and British Red Cross demonstrates the serious impact of loneliness and social isolation. Key findings from their ‘Trapped in a Bubble’ report include:

  • over nine million people in the UK say they’re often or always lonely.
  • loneliness affects all ages, not just older people.
  • life changes such as retirement, loss of mobility, divorce or bereavement are key triggers for loneliness.
  • 18% of people are always or often lonely.
  • 75% of people who are always or often lonely don’t know where to turn for support.
  • loneliness can have serious consequences for individuals but also for communities as those experiencing loneliness may withdraw.
  • 92% of people think community has a role to play in supporting people experiencing loneliness.
  • people prefer face-to-face support, for some this could be more intense one-on-one services and for others this may be less formal support – for example lunch clubs and community groups.

Impact on business

Further research from the Co-op and New Economics Foundation shows the impact of loneliness to UK employers. Key findings from their ‘The Cost of Loneliness to UK Employers’ report include:

  • Absence from work because of illness associated with loneliness: £20 million per year
  • Absence from work because of the need to care for someone with a loneliness-related illness: £220 million per year
  • Lower productivity, because of lower job satisfaction associated with loneliness: £665 million per year
  • Staff turnover, because of lower job satisfaction associated with loneliness: £1.62 billion per year

ACS Colleague Survey

ACS’ Colleague Survey finds that shop floor staff rank ‘providing social interaction for lonely people’ as the third most important role of local shops for their communities, behind only providing access to groceries and bill payment services.

The same survey also illustrates the value colleagues attribute to social engagement, ranking the best three things about working in a convenience store as, interacting with customers, the colleagues worked with, and working as part of the community. 

Great Get Together

ACS is also a supporter of the Great Get Together campaign run by the Jo Cox Foundation. The campaign encourages social events over an annual weekend in June to unite communities and tackle loneliness. These events can include BBQs, fetes, coffee mornings and other events.

Examples of Retailers Tackling Loneliness

Hear how rural communities are making it their business to help local people from Plunkett Foundation on Vimeo.

Struggling with Loneliness?

Loneliness is an issue which affects many people and there are organisations out there who can help. As much as we want to showcase everyone’s stories, we want you to feel comfortable sharing. If you’re currently experiencing loneliness or mental health issues, here are some organisations who you can talk to:

Mind Call: 0300 123 3393 or Text: 86463

Mind’s tips for coping with loneliness

Samaritans Call: 116 123

For more information, contact Steve Dowling, ACS Public Affairs Manager, via [email protected].