New ACS report shows petrol forecourt sector’s contribution to UK convenience retail industry
A new report has highlighted the importance of forecourts to the UK’s convenience sector.
The 2016 Forecourt Report from the Association of Convenience Stores says the total value of the country’s convenience forecourt sales, excluding petrol, is over £4bn.
The report, the first of its kind to be produced by ACS, builds on its wider-ranging Local Shop Report and suggests consumers are increasingly going to their local petrol station to make food and drink purchases, rather than to refuel cars.
There are 8,748 fuel forecourt stores in the UK, the report says, making up 17% of the stores in the overall convenience sector. Of the forecourts more than half (56%) are owned and operated by multiple retailers, with the other 44% owned and operated by independent businesses.
The breakdown of store size for forecourts is similar to the overall size of independent stores in the convenience sector. The majority of stores (58%) operate out of premises under 1,000 sq ft, while 39% are between 1,000 and 2,000 sq ft and 3% are between 2,000 and 3,000 sq ft.
A survey of customers found that just 18% of shopper visits are carried out to buy fuel or use a car wash. Some 40% of users said they visit their local forecourt shop more than once a week.
Some of the key findings from the report include:
• Coffee, from standalone vending machines to full barista services, plays a major role in modern forecourt service. 70% of stores have a coffee machine in store.
• UK forecourts see significant levels of investment. On average, forecourt-owning businesses invest over £16,000 a year per store, primarily spending on shelving, internal building maintenance, development and refrigeration.
• The forecourt sector provides over 117,000 jobs in the UK and forecourt owners believe the best way to add value to their business is to develop existing staff.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Forecourts have seen significant development over the last 10 years, now giving customers the opportunity to get food and drink for now, for later and for the rest of the week, as well as a host of other goods and services. Some of the best convenience stores in the UK are located on petrol forecourts, and there is still huge potential in the sector for growth.
“Many consumers consider their local shop to be on a petrol forecourt, and we anticipate this trend to continue in the coming years.”