International news: flexibility the key in convenience

New research from Mintel reveals that 45 per cent of Britons say they regularly visit convenience stores to do a top-up shop, while seven per cent visit the stores for their main weekly or monthly shop.

Of those who visit convenience stores, three-in-five visit twice a week or more, with 12 per cent shopping four to six times a week, and five per cent saying they do so daily. The growth in the convenience sector has been driven by a shift in grocery habits from consumers who are looking to cut down on the time they spend grocery shopping.

The research indicates that it is the flexibility of convenience stores that is most important for time-poor consumers as three quarters of Brits say the opening times of convenience stores make it easier to fit shopping at them into their daily schedule. Nearly half say that shopping at convenience stores allows them to be more flexible with their meal choices.

“The increasingly busy nature of modern life means that, across categories, consumers are looking to cut back on the time it takes to do certain activities,” Mintel Retail Analyst Nick Miller said. “Grocery retailing is no different, and the convenience sector is perhaps the best suited to take advantage of this. As a result, the market is flourishing.”

The convenience sector grew by an estimated 1.8 per cent in Britain in 2015, to reach £38.7 billion ($76.3 billion). This is above the wider grocery sector, which is estimated to have seen an 0.2 per cent fall in sales in the UK in 2015. The market is forecast to grow 13 per cent over the next five years to reach £43.8 billion ($86.4 billion) in 2020.

“Increased interest in both discount and online grocery shopping is benefiting the convenience store market as both of these channels require a level of top-up shopping,” Mr Miller said.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for convenience in all aspects of their grocery-buying experience. That is why we have seen a shift to more fluid grocery shopping habits with consumers, particularly among younger consumers, shopping on a more when-needed basis. Younger consumers are more likely to live in urban areas, meaning that a full shop isn’t possible due to limited space.”

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