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The Rise of the Convenience Sector

Shoppers’ habits have changed; the weekly food shop is being replaced by little-and-often habits helping deliver growth in the convenience market. Longer working hours, smaller household sizes and budgets and ease of access are all playing into the hands of the convenience stores.

 

Key take home points:

– The success of the convenience sector is down to accessibility and opening hours

– The Big Four supermarkets have invested in the convenience sector

– With growth of 5.2%, brands need to sit up and listen to the needs of customers using convenience stores.

– In a such fast paced sector, tactics need to change with three critical considerations at the forefront: availability, visibility and timing.

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With the rapidly changing consumer habits in recent the years the convenience sector has risen to be the fastest growing sector of the UK grocery industry.

Figures out in April 2014 reported a 5.2% year on year increase generating £37.4bn of sales in 2013-14. Brands are therefore racing to keep up with the enormous opportunities this trend presents.

So why has the convenience sector gone from strength to strength?

One of the unique selling points of the convenience store is the combination of accessibility with extended opening hours. Even in the age of the 24-hour opening times operated by the big four, convenience stores still perform well thanks to their locations and long opening hours. Alongside this, convenience stores are not subject to the Sunday trading hours, giving them a strong advantage over the supermarkets

Last year there was a 1% increase in the number of convenience stores with the total number standing at 47,294. IGD reported this increase as due to the “continued slowdown in the decline of unaffiliated independents and the continued growth of multiples and symbol groups.”

Unsurprisingly, the big four have been investing in the convenience sector by occupying prime retail sites, however despite the strong growth they only represent 7.6% of stores with 19.4% of market share.

With growth of 5.2% reported last year compared to a 10-year record low in the rest of the grocery market, brands need to sit up and listen to the needs of the convenience sector. But it’s a fast paced sector and tactics need to change with three critical considerations at the forefront: availability, visibility and timing.

Our free white paper covers how brands can capitalise on the growing convenience sector with simple steps to success. Download it here.