Local Convenience Stores more important than ever
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has released its 2020 Local Shop Report, which outlines the major contribution local stores in the convenience sector make to the economy and their importance during the recent lockdown.
Key figures from the study include the convenience sector generated £44.7bn in sales over the last year. Convenience stores have also invested over £585m during the last 12 months in improving their businesses and introducing new services.
Substantial job creator
“The convenience sector’s role as a substantial job creator cannot be overstated. Retailers provide secure, local, flexible jobs that fit alongside other commitments like childcare and helping relatives. This is why job satisfaction in the sector is high, and more than half of the colleagues working in stores see themselves staying in a similar role in five years’ time. Our role as an employer has never been more important” ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said.
Shop local report
This year’s Local Shop Report found that two-thirds of retailers reported an increase in sales over the period, whilst convenience stores are now providing over 600,000 home deliveries a week to local people.
“When the UK went into lockdown in March, millions of people turned to their local shops to help keep them going with essential groceries and services. Retailers have done a stellar job of adapting and developing their businesses to keep up with demand, with no greater example than the incredible growth in home deliveries,” Lowman said.
“We anticipate continued growth in the convenience sector in the coming months and years, as both new and existing customers keep coming back to their local shop.”
IGD also predict growth
Recent research by the Institute of Grocery Distribution suggests that the convenience channel will grow 13.2 per cent by 2022 following a strong 2020. This growth, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to moderate in 2021 and 2022 but still leave the channel in a stronger position than in 2019.
The growth in sales during the early days of lockdown was a boon to convenience retailers. Although consumers are expected to drift back to the multiples, there are plenty of ways to retain the growth since lockdown, says the IGD.
Some have doubled down on community activities while others have invested in online. The latter is particularly relevant given IGD tips online to be the channel with the highest level of growth by 2022, making it something that every retailer should be at least considering.
But even if you don’t want to venture online, there are plenty of opportunities to keep those new customers into 2022 and beyond. As always, start by talking to them, find out what they like, don’t like and what they’d like to see. Not every suggestion will be viable but they see your store differently to you, and a simple change to your store might be the key to unlocking sales.