UCL Health


The convenience store sector: mapping the system and identifying policy opportunities for health

This project will map the convenience store sector in England to identify policy opportunities for health and well-being.

Shelves of fresh food

8 March 2024


The UK has a vast convenience store sector comprising over 48,590 outlets that contribute £45.2 billion pounds to the British economy and over 400,000 jobs. Convenience stores provide an important food supply in local communities, particularly among groups with transportation limitations and who are known to have poorer diets, such as young people, older adults and families living on lower incomes.

Convenience stores differ significantly in the range of products they sell but many rely in sales from products that are high in fat, sugar and salt which have a longer shelf life and are appealing to local customers. As smaller stores, they also often have less buying power than supermarkets in wholesaler and manufacturer relationships.

Smaller businesses are frequently exempt from existing UK government food policies for fears of their impact on business profitability. There is a lack of understanding of viable policy options to support healthier retailing in smaller stores and the need for scientific research to address this evidence gap.

Aims and objectives

This research aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the convenience store sector in England. The project will identify local and national policy opportunities that can support convenience stores to sell more healthy foods while maintaining profitability.


This project aims to improve understanding of the convenience store sector in the UK and identify potential policy options to improve the health offerings in convenience stores while maintaining business viability.

This project will first involve a systematic review of the international evidence for effective healthy eating interventions in convenience stores that improve diet-related outcomes such as dietary quality, purchasing patterns and weight status.

Secondly, Kantar WorldPanel data will be used to investigate the role of convenience stores in out-of-home purchasing patterns, and the correlation between using of convenience stores for grocery purchases and out-of-home purchasing. Differences by sociodemographic characteristics will be examined.

Thirdly, a systems approach to understand the UK convenience store sector will be adopted by mapping the current supply chains for convenience stores across England and how they vary by type of convenience store and geographical region. This mapping activity will be complemented by a rapid qualitative analysis involving interviews with stakeholders from across the system connected to the convenience store sector, to identify potential policy levers and key factors inhibiting the sale and promotion of healthier foods.


  • This project will run from January 2024 to January 2026

Led by Christina Vogel at City University. View the Healthy Weight research team 


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The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Healthy Weight is part of the NIHR and hosted by UCL.