ACS conference celebrates how local shops responded to pandemic

Today (13 October), Association of Convenience Stores' Heart of the Community Conference brought together convenience retailers, industry experts and senior policymakers to discuss the latest policy agenda and celebrate local shops’ response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Bestselling author and political academic Professor Matthew Goodwin addressed the conference, providing insight on the current political landscape, the forces shaping British politics and how these policies could impact convenience retailers and their businesses.

In the first session, Covid-19 and Community Credentials, panellists Will Tanner (Onward), Michaela Rhode (BritainThinks), Helen Walker (Carers UK) and independent retailer Harj Dhasee (pictured) explored the vital role that local shops have played in feeding and supporting their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, from providing home grocery deliveries for vulnerable customers to introducing dedicated shopping hours for NHS workers.

Figures from ACS’ Covid-19 Impact Survey revealed that convenience stores are now providing over 600,000 home deliveries a week to local people.

In the second session, Assessing the Covid-19 Food Legacy for Shops and Policy, panellists Sarah Williams (Sustain), Ed Perry (Cook Trading), Paul Gerrard (Co-op Group) and Jess Attard (Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity) discussed how consumers’ eating and shopping habits have evolved and explored the key role that local shops play in providing their communities with a healthy food provision.

Speaking during the conference, ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “Local shops have acted as a lifeline for their communities, working tirelessly to ensure that they can continue to feed their customers safely and effectively during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We are delighted to recognise and celebrate the phenomenal job that convenience retailers and their staff have done in their communities. I would like to thank all our speakers and attendees for taking the time to be involved in our conference, exploring the opportunities and the challenges that our sector has faced as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

The Heart of the Community Conference also featured the launch of a new trophy marking the legacy of independent retailer, Raj Aggarwal. From 2021, this trophy will be awarded to a retailer who has done outstanding work in their community and in supporting other retailers.