Shoppers are staying close to home and – in growing recognition of their value in the community – are turning to their local convenience store.

That’s according to new research, commissioned by TWC, sponsored by Cirkle and TWC, and conducted by KAM.

The report, ‘Forging a New Future in Convenience Retailing’, is being released in four chapters on the TWC website. It also possible to register to receive the full report when it becomes available on 9 June.

‘Forging a New Future in Convenience Retailing’ reflects the views of over 560 consumers and shows that 75% of the UK adult population have visited a convenience store in the last six weeks, with 52% of consumers stating their local c-store has become more important to them since lockdown measures were introduced on 23 March 2020.

And retailers can expect the upturn to stick in months to come, with almost a third of responders confirming they will continue to use their local c-store more regularly on an ongoing basis, once the current government guidelines are relaxed. With risk of Covid-19 infection remaining top of consumers’ minds, over 77% of consumers says they feel ‘very safe’ or ‘somewhat safe’, when shopping in their local C-store.

What price convenience?

With talk in the media of retailers looking to profiteer from price increases, the study looks at consumer perceptions and finds that 51% of responders say they are not aware of any price increases.

However, 44% think prices have gone up although it is important to note that 47% of consumers stated that they would find an increase acceptable (to some degree), under the current market conditions.

Whilst it is generally believed that fewer products are on promotion than were three months ago, only 44% of shoppers have noticed this decrease, with 13% of consumers saying they have noticed more promotions in their local c-store since lockdown and 43% saying they have seen no difference.

According to Nisa Local retailer David Sands, prices have risen in some instances and for good reason: “We should be very clear that there is a difference between responding to current market conditions and a need for genuine price increases, against ‘predatory pricing’, which has been reported but actually only occurs in very few cases.

“Right now, the cost of deliveries is greater than it was on 23 March, plus there is no more ‘open food’ so the price of packaging has increased. Normal SKUs such as price-marked-packs (PMPs) are no longer available, so retailers have had to switch to non-PMP packs. Whilst products are widely available to the consumer, there are still major supply issues which means the introduction of different lines. Take for example alcohol, where we are presently getting about 50% availability.

“Understandably, many retailers are probably ignoring promotions currently. Maybe one of the big learnings to come out of the current situation, will be that we are probably doing too many promotions and actually our customers are not that interested. If retailers spent their time on customer service rather than setting up promotions, I would question would they fare better?”

Commenting on the scope of the report, TWC’s Tom Fender said: “Forging a New Future in Convenience Retailing’ gives a new perspective on the value of community stores and explores consumers’ perception of promotions and pricing which is a highly topical and current issue.

“Our aim is to provide valuable information and insight to help retailers and brands prepare for the ‘new normal’ as the UK comes out of lockdown. Shopping behaviours have changed overnight and in this report we are exploring the short to medium term future of the UK convenience channel.”

Full article here