A new report released by the Association of Convenience Stores has revealed that rural shops are often the only place where customers in their local area can get essential goods and services. More than half of rural stores (59%) operate entirely on their own, with no other retail/service businesses close by.
Rural stores are at the very heart of the community, with one in five store owners in rural areas having run their store for over 25 years. Rural shop owners also work long hours to serve their local area, with 22% working more than 70 hours per week and 21% taking no holiday at all throughout the year.
The Association of Convenience Stores has called on the government to help secure the future of the UK’s 19,128 rural shops, allowing them to continue to provide essential services like the Post Office for customers that would otherwise be isolated.
Policy recommendations to Government include:
- Rural post offices: Review costs, income and viability of rural post offices and produce a specific plan on how to ensure delivery of the Government’s manifesto commitment to sustain 3,000 rural post offices
- Rural rate relief for forecourts: Increase the rateable value threshold for rural petrol stations to benefit from rural business rate relief scheme beyond £12,500 rateable value
- Broadband: Deliver the Universal Service Obligation at a minimum speed of 10mbps and address the lack of fast mobile data coverage in rural communities
- Rural proofing: Ensure that all policy developments are rural proofed at a national and local level to make sure that the specific needs and interests of rural communities are considered
The full report is available here.