The 2021 Forecourt Report has highlighted the vital role that the UK’s 7,395 forecourt shops play in their local communities, providing over 88,000 secure local jobs, providing access to essential services and taking time out of the business to support local projects.
More than three quarters (76%) of independent forecourts engaged in some form of community activity over the last year, not just through raising money for charity, but also by sponsoring local teams, being part of litter picks and other activities. One in five forecourts (20%) is involved with providing stock for food banks.
Forecourt retailers are also more active than ever on social media, reaching their customers through engagement on platforms like Facebook (38% of retailers), Twitter (22%), Instagram (20%) and TikTok (13%).
In the last year, forecourt retailers have continued to invest in their businesses, with independent forecourts spending around £16,000 on average per store over the last year. While this is higher than their convenience store only counterparts, this is a significant fall on the previous year when independent forecourt retailers were investing around £24,000 per store.
Speaking on the launch of the report, ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “UK forecourts have demonstrated how essential they are to their communities throughout the pandemic, and especially in the last few months during the fuel supply chain issues.
'As we look ahead, we must ensure that the essential services that forecourts provide are recognised, and that they are incentivised to invest in new technology, alternative power options for vehicles, and improving their shop offer for customers.”
Other key findings from the report include:
• More than one in three independent forecourt operators (37%) took no days off over the last year
• There are around 305,000 PHEVs and 298,190 fully electric vehicles registered in the UK
• There are around 536 charging points at 405 forecourt locations (excluding service stations) in the UK, part of a wider network of over 16,000 charging locations
• Around one in four independent forecourts are open 24 hours
ACS is currently calling on Government to ensure that the rollout of EV charging points is conducted strategically. For many petrol forecourts, EV charging will be central to their offer to customers, but for some it will not be the right approach in that community. ACS’ recommendations to Government include:
• Increase and extend the Rapid Charging Fund beyond major road network and support grid connections to increase EV infrastructure takeup
• Industry led implementation of EV charging infrastructure based on consumer demand, not arbitrary definitions of ‘large fuel retailers’
• Exemptions from mandatory provision of EV charging in car parks where costs are prohibitive or sites are too small.
(source: ACS, image: EG Group)