The concept of hybrid stores which harness the ‘power of two’ is getting increased consumer acceptance, a new study finds.

According to a report titled ‘The Growing Role of Convenience Stores’ by data and digital experts TWC, 35 per cent of consumers would ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ use a store that was a cross between a convenience and another type of outlet.

While many convenience stores are familiar with the concept, playing host to Post Office services or partnering with coffee or foodservice brands, the TWC study found that eating food (restaurant/coffee shop/eat in tables) on the premises is a new format that could drive further traffic, and upsell to retailers.

Over a third of UK adults (35%) are ready to embrace this European-style approach when visiting a retail store and 29 per cent said they would probably use the store if they could consume alcohol on premise (a c-store/ontrade hybrid outlet).

The figure increased significantly to 42 per cent if the convenience store could include a proper pharmacy in it, with pharmacists working in it.

“There is far greater competition for ‘top up’ shopping today than there was 20 years ago,” commented Tom Fender, development director for TWC.  A huge percentage of visits to supermarkets are ‘top up’ trips (10 items or less, contents of a held basket only) as well as discounters taking a chunk out of c-stores’ top-up market.

“Therefore, c-store operators have had to go fishing in ponds other than the ones they are used to (top up).  This has predominantly involved services, food-to-go and coffee …. although it is still a constant surprise that industry data shows that still a majority of UK C-stores still do not have a coffee offer.”

Fender said retailers now need to look beyond and ‘fish in other ponds’ to build growth and adapt to changes in shopping behaviours.

“Take stores across Asia, which are small but always packed with an eating in area.  Who knows what changes in on-premise consumption will occur once we get through this pandemic …but all the signs were indicating that consumers were keen to use c-stores for a bit of dwell-time,” he said.

Fender said, apart from food, pharmacy offers a symbiotic partnership for c-stores, which would have great appeal to residents in local communities.

“When we say Pharmacy, we don’t mean putting some deodorant or body spray on shelf, but having an actual pharmacy offer in store with the right expertise (i.e. an on-site pharmacist).  What is often forgotten in our channel is that if you look at the most common types of retail business consumers visit, pharmacy is usually one of the highest.  So it makes sense for retailer to consider introducing business concepts which are clearly successful in their own right and attract high levels of footfall too.

“I come back to the fact that why go into two shops when you could do it all in one”.