Asda has urged retailers to use links with the community as a competitive advantage and give over store staff and space to local groups.

The grocer has partnered with the RSA to publish a report, Shopping for Shared Value, into how retailers can create strong links to local communities and become hubs for community projects.

Asda has piloted giving over space in its stores vacated after certain tasks were centralised and hopes to foster further community relations to breed loyalty.

The report recommends charities use recruit volunteers at busy store entrances; areas which lack community facilities could make space for homework clubs and training courses as well as mentoring services for local entrepreneurs.

It also suggests quieter store car parks could be used for basketball, tennis or drive-in movies when they are less used in the evenings.

Asda external affairs director and chair of the Asda Foundation Paul Kelly said: “Asda’s relationship with its customers and the communities in which they live are at the heart of our approach to business.”

The report takes an in-depth look at Asda’s Community Life programme – now in its third year - and studies initiatives in Asda stores including making space available for charities, MPs’ meetings with constituents, and local groups. 

Each Asda store has a designated Community Life Champion who spends 22.5 hours per week on the programme. As well as small grants, opening up the store’s space for free to local organisations has resulted in attracting 23,000 visits.