Editor’s comment: This sector creates jobs

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As a journalist, I have to admit I find stories such as the recent troubles experienced by Bargain Booze owner Conviviality pretty exciting to cover. There’s a certain drama and an element of jeopardy to them that you don’t come across every day.

What we shouldn’t forget, however, is that this is people’s livelihoods we are talking about. Whether company employees, franchise holders, their families, or simply staff working in their stores, these people all face uncertain futures as the drama plays out in the public eye. Which is why it was good, in this case, to have a positive outcome as Bestway stepped in to rescue Conviviality’s retail wing and safeguard more than 2,000 jobs. Hopefully, they will also be able to stabilise the supply of stock to those stores and ensure they can continue to trade profitably and serve their local communities in the future.

What situations such as this do highlight, I suppose, is the vitally important role played by c-stores in providing jobs for local people. As last year’s Local Shop Report from the Association of Convenience Stores pointed out, the convenience sector provides more than 370,000 jobs on the UK mainland, with half of those workers living within walking distance of the store.

The sector is also a great source of flexible work that fits around people’s lifestyles. One third of staff members have children to look after, while 8% have study commitments outside work. Two-thirds of staff are female and more than one in every eight are over the age of 60. That’s not to say jobs in the convenience sector are not a key source of income – one-third of c-store workers say they are the only wage-earner in their household.

Its these kind of considerations we need to keep hammering home to our politicians and policy-makers when they are considering the next piece of legislation – whether that be deposit return schemes or auto-enrolment pensions. The independent convenience sector is a valuable contributor to the UK economy, and one that must not be overlooked.

David Shrimpton