The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Post Offices and pharmacies top of local services

The Association of Convenience Stores, one of our Rural Services Partnership members, last week launched their 2023 Community Barometer.

This explores how people value the services in their local area, what they would like to see more of, and how they would prioritise investment in their community.

This year’s report shows that the top three services that have the most positive impact locally are Post Offices, pharmacies and convenience stores. The same three services were also rated highest among local people as the most essential, with pharmacies considered the number one most essential local service.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said:

“UK consumers are sending a very clear message that a diverse range of local services are essential to the wellbeing of their communities. Convenience stores are increasingly acting as service hubs, including Post Office counters, prescription collections and banking services within their businesses, which are highly valued by their customers.”

Martin Roberts, Group Chief Retail Officer at Post Office, said:

“I’m delighted that Post Offices have been recognised as having the most positive impact on a local area. Postmasters provide their communities with essential services, whether it’s banking, paying a bill, topping up gas and electricity cards or sending letters and gifts to loved ones. Consumers value face-to-face customer service and know that at their local Post Office they will be served by a trusted and knowledgeable Postmaster.

“Many branches are at the heart of the community and provide an opportunity to socialise helping to add to people’s general well-being. I’m grateful to Postmasters and their teams for all they do serving their communities and this report recognises their hard work and commitment.”

Convenience Stores Appealing to Next Generation

The Community Barometer report also looks at the way that different age groups feel about their local convenience stores and the value that they bring to their communities. In this year’s report, 18–24-year-olds were the most keen on having more convenience stores in their local area compared to other age groups, and were the most positive about their local convenience store being a community hub, reducing loneliness, and helping to keep people safe at night.

Mr Lowman continued:

“The importance of convenience stores to older customers is well documented, with stores acting as social hubs and a support network for those that are vulnerable or less mobile, but these figures show that on areas like reducing loneliness, local shops are incredibly important to young people as well. It’s encouraging to see the continued relevance of convenience stores to the next generation of consumers.”

The Rural Services Network recognises the role that convenience stores, and post office services can play in rural communities, often providing a lifeline for residents who may be unable to access alternative services due to a lack of public transport.  In addition, they help to reduce social isolation as the shop can often play the role of the hub of the community.


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