The UK convenience store market has been valued at £37.7bn, having grown by 5% in the past year alone. This is according to the Local Shop Report: a study compiled by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
Since the recession convenience stores have experienced a boom, with an average of two stores opening a day in Britain. The report accredited this growth to changes in the spending habits of consumers: its figures claimed that shoppers are making smaller but more frequent purchases as opposed to a weekly big shop, spending an average of £6.45 per trip.
The Co-Operative Group has attributed its recovery to the rise of convenience stores, reflecting consumer shopping habits with the new slogan “Little. Often. Co-Op”. The wholesaler Booker Group is also making moves into the sector with its acquisition of the Budgens and Londis chains.
Competition from the larger supermarkets remains a threat, with Tesco and Sainsbury’s having shifted their focus from opening larger supermarkets to expanding their own convenience store presence. Conversely, Morrison’s has elected to remove itself from the sector and is negotiating the sale of its 150 convenience stores after it failed to secure a strong foothold in the market in recent years.
According to the report, the most common reason for visiting a convenience store is for mobile phone top ups. 40% of trips focused on this, whilst 22% were driven by newsagent related purchases and 13% being for food to go. ACS CEO, James Lowman, said: “The report demonstrates that the convenience sector is continuing to adapt to meet the needs of customers.”
A quarter of shoppers visit a convenience store every day, with around 58% living within walking distance of their chosen retailer. 27% of the average customer base are single shoppers, whilst 23% are made up of couples with young children.