The popularity of convenience stores soared amongst the events of the pandemic, offering the convenience sector the opportunity to achieve meaningful growth. With convenience retailers giving consumers the path to adhere to the government’s ‘stay local’ messaging, through being able to stay closer to home and support localised shopping but still having access to all the products they needed and required without having to go to big, crowded supermarkets, it’s no wonder this sector excelled.
As we now understand more the latest trends in consumer behaviours, expectations and what drives them to buy in this brave new world, we can see they value convenience, speed, local and digital shopping experiences. 91% of consumers said they will still continue to shop local post pandemic. It therefore comes as no surprise that we are seeing even more large retailers and big brand names moving into the smaller store format space.
As we reach the later part of 2021, we see growth has now stabilised however it’s still expected to grow in the following months. The main drivers being 1) big brands developing to meet the customer desire of convenience by opening up smaller convenience stores and 2) already established convenience stores partnering up with delivery services, to deliver their products to customers homes. The revolution of hybrid working for many organisations will also contribute towards seeing further growth within convenience retail, with more working from home they are driven away from city centres and remain surrounded by their local shops / stores.
Since the rise of convenience stores last year, we have seen their focus switch to becoming even more competitive, in an attempt to deliver products, services and experiences you just can’t get online. For example, many convenience stores now operate seating areas, fresh food counters and drinks machines etc. Not to mention the home delivery services, and click and collect. This has allowed them to make it easier for consumers to access certain products, whilst meeting their newly formed needs and expectations, enhancing the experience and perception of convenience stores.
For organisations, especially big brand names, they have been given a window of opportunity to get into smaller towns that they do not yet operate in. As well as spreading risk, through operating large scale and convenience stores, covering various channels to meet all audiences preferences. The real opportunities within this market for organisations though lies within competitive and innovative products on offer.
If we look at Asda, they have branched out to multiple channels within recent years. They operate large scale stores, have a partnership with Deliveroo and UberEats for home delivery services and now moving to convenience stores. They are planning to open over 300 Asda convenience stores ‘Asda on the move’. Poundland another retailer have opened convenience stores in the north of England in order to capitalise on the increased popularity within this sector. And finally B&Q, now have express stores! in their efforts to reflect the changes in customer expectations for speed and convenience.
With many big retailers already within this market, it’s looking likely that there will be a lot more movement and activity from this space ahead of 2022. But is there danger of the market becoming too saturated? Only time will tell.