CONVENIENCE stores are keeping thousands of people in Sunderland employed.
New figures show 634 local shops across Wearside have created 4,796 jobs.
The statistics, from the National Association of Convenience Stores, also show that across the North East 2,159 stores employ 16,226 people, which equates to one shop, per 1,203 people.
However, the figures don’t come as a surprise to financial director of North East Convenience Stores Sanjeev Vadhera.
The businessman said “community shops” are a growing industry.
“They are going from strength to strength,” he said.
“These figures show the importance of convenience stores to the local economy, and how valuable they are to the areas they are in.”
Sanjeev owns two shops in Sunderland employing 16 staff, and 21 stores throughout the North East which employ about 260 people in total.
“We are about to open our third shop in Sunderland where, again, there will be a minimum of 10 staff,” he said.
“Because this sector of the industry is expanding, unlike other areas, we have seen an increase in the amount of people applying for each available position – about 50 people apply for each job.
“Our biggest threat comes from ‘local’ supermarket shops.
“While these also create jobs, they don’t necessarily have the same community feel as smaller businesses shops.”
Store manager at the Nisa shop which North East Convenience Stores own at The Broadway, Grindon, Marie Gilbertson, said the growing corner shop industry is important to the community, as well as the employment market.
“A lot of people go to shops locally because it’s easier for them,” she said.
“And it’s a local, friendly experience.
“We get the some people who come in every day and you get to know them, so it’s not surprising that the shops do well, and that the businesses are expanding.”
Marie, who has worked in the shop for two years, said: “I love it.
“It’s a lot of staff to be employed in one shop but it’s good because it’s keeping jobs in the local area.
“It’s a lovely, friendly family business – all the staff, and the owners are nice – and it’s not surprising that people want to keep coming back in, it’s great.”