Convenience store retailers have made record investments in their business over the last three months ahead of expected price rises in the New Year and despite rising costs, according to new research from the Association of Convenience Stores.
Over the last three months, retailers have invested almost £300m on measures to improve their business, with the total amount invested in 2016 reaching £838m.
The record levels of investment over the last quarter come despite rising costs for retailers in many areas of their business, including hikes in business rates for thousands of stores as a result of the 2017 revaluation and the introduction of the National Living Wage in April.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Retailers are making significant investments in their business to remain competitive, make their stores more energy efficient, and to try and secure their long-term futures. With the uncertainty of the rate of inflation, rising food prices and further increases in employment costs on the horizon, store owners are using their own reserves to fund improvements to their stores whilst attempting to make savings in other areas of the business.”
The survey shows that 72% of independent retailers are funding investments from their own reserves, with just 6% turning to bank funding to improve their stores.
Also in the survey, 22% of independent retailers reported that the number of staff hours in their business had decreased over the last three months compared to the same period last year.
Lowman continued: “With the National Living Wage set to increase to £7.50 an hour in April, and further rises planned to reach a target of 60% of median earnings in 2020, we expect retailers to look to invest in measures that will make their businesses more efficient and productive. That will mean retailers reducing staff hours, introducing automation where possible, and working more hours themselves.”