Convenience sector continues to grow
The number of convenience stores in the UK has increased by 17% since 2012 according to a report by the Local Data Company (LDC) whilst Global Data predict that the convenience sector will grow by a further 22% in the next five years.
With the ongoing threat of online shopping and internet giant Amazon stepping into the market with their Amazon Pantry and Prime Now offerings, how is the convenience store continuing to grow in such challenging conditions?
Little and often
The trend is towards shopping little and often rather than doing one big shop at the weekend. Smaller households with less storage space lead to consumers doing more regular top up shops to complement those from the bigger supermarkets.
Millennials are driving this change in behaviour, doing their food and grocery shopping in convenience stores on a more regular basis. 25.3% of 25-34-year-olds say that they do their weekly shop in a convenience store, versus just 5.7% of 55-64-year-olds.
The younger generations are not only using convenience stores for top-up shopping but have begun using them for weekly shops as speed and ease of shopping are increasingly important factors to time-pressured millennials.
Convenience and product range
The clue is in the name ,but convenience stores offer consumers not only ease of shopping but also an increased product range that is comparable with mini supermarkets. Quality is increasingly important, and the convenience sector have upped their game to match the demand of the millennial shopper.
Stores now offer everything from soap to slush drinks and cigarettes to sushi leaving shoppers little reason to seek out the bigger stores.
Food to go and fresh produce
Food on the go continues to drive the profits upwards due to the higher margin and flexibility of prices against usual branded food items.
The purchase of a few staple items such as bread and milk drive three quarters of all convenience store purchases according to the Global Data report however fresh produce is becoming increasingly popular with consumers looking to buy goods that would last two to three days from their local convenience store.
In store experience
Whilst the news all appears to be positive, the convenience sector can’t rest on its laurels and needs to continue to monitor consumer trends.
As well as price and convenience, the in-store experience is becoming ever more important and shop owners will need to ensure that they offer an experience to match or better their larger competitors.
A word of caution also needs to be added regarding upcoming legislation changes. Scotland has recently introduced minimum pricing for alcohol and the rest of the UK is watching this closely.
The sugar tax has just been introduced and with a looming obesity crisis, there could be further health related legislation.
The convenience sector has proven that it can adapt and face challenges head on, as the sector continues to grow there has rarely been a better time to be a convenience store owner.