A new report suggests that hybrid stores that are a cross between a convenience outlet and another type of retailer could prove increasingly popular in the future.
For example, many convenience stores already play host to Post Office services, which has proven a valuable draw for some retailers in terms of increased footfall. The same can be said for convenience stores partnering with coffee or foodservice brands.
The report – The Growing Role of Convenience Stores – by data and digital experts TWC found that eating food (restaurant/coffee shop/eat in tables) on premises is a new format that could drive further traffic, with 35% of UK adults saying they would embrace this European-style approach when visiting a retail store. Meanwhile, 29% said they would probably use the store if they could consume alcohol on premise (a c-store/on-trade hybrid outlet).
The figure increased to 42% if the convenience store could include a proper pharmacy, with pharmacists working in it.
Tom Fender, Development Director for TWC, said: “There is far greater competition for ‘top up’ shopping today than there was 20 years ago. 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 a majority of UK c-stores still do not have a coffee offer.
“This is all about fishing in other ponds – to build growth and traffic through the door, as well as recognising trends evolve and businesses need to adapt to embrace changes in shopping behaviours. It also helps retailers to differentiate their business from the competition and focus on higher-margin products/services.
“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.
“And it’s not just about food, although food and coffee are powerful draws. For example, as yet we have to see the emergence of pharmacy aligning to c-stores, which feels a symbiotic partnership and one that would have great appeal to residents in local communities. Almost half of 7-11 stores in Japan have a pharmacy within it.
“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 a retailer to consider introducing business concepts which are clearly successful in their own right and attract high levels of footfall too.”