The UK convenience sector grew by 4.9% to £35.6bn last year, new data from IGD has revealed.

It has also predicted the c-store market will be worth around £46.2bn by 2018 with compound annual growth rate expected to be 5.3%.

The prediction comes on the same day that Sainsbury’s said its number of convenience stores would overtake its supermarket estate in the next 12 months. It opened its 500th c-store in November last year.

It also follows Tesco’s pledge last month to focus its store openings on its convenience estate rather than larger stores.

IGD also revealed the fast-growing symbol sector of the c-store market was now worth £14.8bn - up 8.3% on 2012.

The market share of symbol stores grew by 1.3% to account for 41.5% of the convenience market.