Independently-run convenience stores saw store numbers and sales slump last year - as the multiples continued to make inroads into their market, according to IGD's UK Convenience Retailing report.

Overall, the number of c-stores slumped 1.3% to 51,990, although total sales increased 4.9% to £26.1bn. But independent store numbers fell 5.3% to 24,526 stores in 2006, while sales fell 2.5% to £7.1bn , according to the report.

In contrast, the number of c-stores operated by the multiples rose 3.4% to 2,510, with sales up 12.7% to £3.5bn.

It was a good year for symbol group operators too, as more independent retailers opted to transfer their stores to one of their fascias. Symbol group store numbers rose 5.6% to 13,760, while sales rose 8% to £8.9bn. They also held the largest share of total c-store sales, at 34%.

C-stores run by the co-operative movement fared well too, with sales up 12.5% to £2.9bn and the number of stores increasing an impressive 6.6% to 2,488.

However, the march of the multiples is expected to continue. Tesco plans to add around 85 stores to its 735-strong portfolio of Tesco Express stores this year, while Sainsbury's has targeted £400m in extra c-store sales by March 2008.