The relentless march of the supermarkets into the convenience sector has left many of the UK's biggest cities with a dearth of hot retail space, a new survey by The Grocer has found.

On the eve of the National Convenience Show, analysis of 37,000 UK c-stores conducted exclusively for The Grocer by CACI found that Tesco dominated The Grocer's first ever Hot 100 list, with a total of 25 Tesco-branded stores and four One Stops.

A One Stop in Hampton Hargate, Peterborough, was the hottest convenience retailer in the UK, thanks to factors including a large residential population and a lack of competing supermarkets.

And the sheer population density of London meant the capital was the most represented location, with 37 stores.
However, no stores from Britain's second city Birmingham made it into the Hot 100, and stores in Bradford, Newcastle and Belfast also failed to make the cut, suggesting c-stores are suffering as British cities reach saturation point.

"There's no doubt many cities are saturated," says Perran Jervis, head of retail at law firm TLT. "The fact there's more retail space in urban areas means shops can pop up and disappear more quickly. In other areas suitable retail space doesn't come up so often."

As a result, many rural stores made it on to the list despite having much smaller nearby populations.

"The closest supermarkets to us are in Wrexham so many locals do their shopping here," said Sharon Collins, assistant manager of the Spar in Llangollen, in 52nd place despite a resident population of just 3,500.

Springfields Super­market, in the North­amptonshire village of Welford (population 522), made it to the 67 spot on the list. "I'm not surprised we have resident customers and passing trade," said owner Roy Holyland, adding that the only competition in the village was a petrol station forecourt.

As well as Tesco and Sainsbury's c-stores, symbol groups were well represented, with Costcutter out in front with 11 stores.

The list of 21 unaffiliated independents was topped by third-placed Russell Supermarket in London's fashionable Bloomsbury.

The ranking included a student union c-store. "I'm surprised," said supervisor Mark MacPherson. "Tesco Express opened half a mile away two years ago and we can't compete with their prices. Tesco is everywhere in Nottingham. The minute anyone closes they are straight in there."

C-Stores: the UK's hottest spots
One Stop, Hampton Hargate
Topped the Hot 100 thanks to the large residential population on its doorstep, good facilities and a distinct lack of competition

Russell Supermarket, Bloomsbury, London
Nearby student halls, top-notch transport links and in a thriving city street, Russell Supermarket was the hottest indie c-store

Student Union Express, Nottingham
Slap-bang in the middle of a university campus and two minutes from the city centre, the Student Union Express was in 97th place