The Fourth Chapter in TWC’s research, ‘Forging a New Future in Convenience Retail – The Retailer Perspective’, has been published.

It explores how retailers “are feeling” in the wake of Covid-19 – and looks at how they are planning to tackle the new future.

When asked if they felt they were getting enough support during this time of crisis, the majority of both symbol operators and independents said that wholesalers and local suppliers have been supporting them as well as they possibly could throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

And, nearly half of all retailers said they have begun planning for the new future – giving a clear distinction between those retailers who are already looking ahead, and those who are still in fire-fighting mode and have yet to consider the next stage.

Forging a New Future – The Retailer Perspective asked convenience retailers what they think they will have to change in store, once lockdown is over. The area most frequently highlighted for change was that of pricing and promotional strategies, followed by the product range that a store offers as consumers look for ‘more local and less national’.

There was also a question around the number of staff per store in the recognition that greater automation is increasingly the norm, but this has to be considered alongside the community relationships that exist and are an important factor in differentiating the nation’s c-stores from the mults. This in turn, poses the question; can a higher number of staff help accelerate growth in sales?

Looking ahead

Speaking on behalf of TWC Tom Fender commented: “It is clear that retailers are looking ahead to what is round the corner and one factor, which rated highly is around how stores will market to their customers in the future.

“Over half of both symbols and independents say that they will be setting up their own delivery and click & collect services for customers (which many have implemented already), and 43% say they will be investing in a new digital strategy and see technology as having ‘come of age’ during the pandemic.

“This comes as no surprise as the UK is one of the world’s most technologically savvy nations, and over half of retailers spoken to are already capturing and using the customer data they are collecting from their home delivery services.

“An average of 11% of stores have already gone cashless over the last twelve weeks, with a further 3% stating their intent to do so. And, 8% of symbol stores say they have installed self-serve checkouts, in contrast to only 1% of independents.

“We hear much discussion and debate around how retailers can maintain the growth momentum in the months ahead, and this report highlights the categories that retailers intend to focus more on as they look to the immediate future.”

The importance of fresh

Fender added: “Fresh is clearly seen as important with 44% of responders citing fruit and vegetables, 40% said bakery would be a key growth area for them and 33% highlighting milk and dairy. This opens up some great opportunities for local suppliers.”

Forging a New Future, The Retailer Perspective asked retailers which protective measures they were implementing in store as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Topping the measures taken were restricting the number of people in-store at any one time, queueing systems (both inside and out) and protective clothing. This was followed closely by hand sanitisers and flow systems around store.

Forging a New Future, commissioned by digital and data experts, TWC, undertaken by KAM and sponsored by Cirkle, contains four chapters designed to help retailers and brands prepare for the ‘new normal’ as the UK exits lock down.

Download the entire ‘Forging a New Future in Convenience Retail’ report.

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