NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales has pledged support for the convenience stores in his Region.
Mr Hamilton, a member of the Senedd’s Rural Affairs Committee, made his pledge at the launch of the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2020 Welsh Local Shop Report in the Welsh Assembly.
He said: “I have long been a supporter of buying local and always encourage everyone to use local stores whenever possible, especially in rural areas. ‘Use it or Lose it’ is very true and the loss of a small shop can be devastating to a community.
“These small shops in Mid & West Wales play a key role in the lives of the community not only for the products they offer but also by acting as social hubs helping to combat loneliness.
“Convenience stores make a significant contribution to communities across Wales, providing flexible jobs and engaging in local initiatives.
“I am pleased to be able to provide support to convenience store retailers and colleagues and look forward to working with this important sector.”
Findings from the report revealed that 62% of local shops in Wales operate in rural locations, providing essential services to their local communities which customers may otherwise not have access to, these include bill payment services (79%), cash machines (68%) and Post Offices (25%).
The average customer in Wales visits their local shop four times per week and 46% of shoppers in Wales drive to store, versus the 38% average in the UK.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said they welcomed the support of Neil Hamilton.
“Local shops operate at the heart of the communities that they serve and this is keenly felt in Wales, where the majority of local shops trade in isolated and rural areas.
“Retailers continue to invest in their stores to provide essential products and services to their customers, but there are a number of challenges that they face on a daily basis.
“We look forward to working with Neil Hamilton in the future on these issues and the other challenges that local shops face.”
Convenience stores continue to make a positive contribution to the communities that they trade in, providing over 27,000 jobs across Wales and playing an active role in their local areas with 82% of independent retailers engaging in some form of community activity in the past year.