The number of community-owned village shops has increased more than seven-fold in the past 20 years, data from the Plunkett Foundation has revealed.

There were just 33 community-owned village shops in 1991, but this increased to 251 at the beginning of 2011, the foundation said. It also found that community-owned shops had a success rate of 97%, with just eight shops closing and volunteers saving about £27,752 in staffing costs.

With 400 village shops closing every year, community-owned stores were replacing about 5% of those that had closed.

Alan Spedding, who carried out the research for the Plunkett Foundation, said community shops performed better because they could take advantage of rate relief for small rural businesses and could tap into the knowledge and expertise of the community.