It will come as no surprise to readers that ‘shopper behaviour’ has changed!  But as we come out of lockdown – the big questions will be… what’s the ‘stickability’ of these changes, and what’s the likely impact on the wholesale, and route to market channel?

A new report, launched today by leading data and digital experts, TWC, in the build up to the launch of its new tracker, TWC Trends, took note of habits formed by over 550 consumers and looks at how they believe their new shopping behaviours will endure after the pandemic subsides.

CEO Tanya Pepin highlighted some key findings from the Report.  Notably that the convenience sector’s share of grocery sales has fallen from 28.3% (in March 2020) to 22.7% (end January 2021).  And whilst 23% of consumers say they ARE top-up shopping more during the current lockdown, 30% are shopping less, meaning there is a net reduction in top up missions.  Does this signal a slow-down to the growth enjoyed in the last year across the community c-stores?

According to Tanya, whilst 76% of us top-up shop, conversely 24% of consumers do not!  They buy ALL the things they need in one big shop at the supermarket.  She says:

“We asked consumers that if they needed to top-up shop today, where would you go.  And, 37% said they would go to the supermarket with a further 31% saying they would turn to multiple convenience and 16% to a symbol store.  Only 7% said they would head to their local independent convenience store, and there is a concern that as we pull out of lockdown later this year, that there may be a slow-down in the growth of these much-loved local community stores, which have played a vital role during the pandemic in serving their local customers.

“Let’s also dispel the myth that behavioral change has been driven simply by the increase in homeworking.  This is not the case.  According to the ONS only 34% of the UK workforce is currently home-working with 5% of workers falling out of work since March 2020, and 16% of the workforce was on furlough in late November.   That still leaves half the workforce going to work at their business premises.

“Our responders indicated that their eating habits have certainly changed, but that they also expect these to change again, post lockdown.  Right now, 48% of consumers are now making lunch at home, 43% of households are now cooking meals from scratch, and 39% are snacking through the day more!  26% of consumers are doing more grocery shopping on line and 6% of consumers have enjoyed using a meal ‘kit’ in the last few months.   However, a lesser-known fact is that 13% have used Amazon Prime, which has quietly gone about its business gaining ground during the Pandemic.

“Post Covid, it is clear that once the working day ‘normalizes’, consumers want convenience eating and snacking again which bodes well for the local C-stores.  61% say they will reduce (or stop) making lunch at home.   44% will cut back on buying bigger bags of crisps/snacks and 23% of consumers plan to start buying more takeaways.

TWC’s data showed that 68% of people want to reduce or end working from home but only 14% want to return to ‘the office’ as they knew it!  62% want to reduce or end work meetings on Zoom/MS Teams and people are seeking a new work experience rather than the one they had before.  They want to get out of the house and they want to meet face-to-face and not on Zoom or Teams.

Tanya highlighted element that could be useful to wholesalers to understand how they can support their retailers and stay ahead of consumer trends:

“A few simple tips could include supporting retailers to engage with customers via newsletters, tailored offers, loyalty and membership schemes.   Plus, encouraging convenience retailers to fight to win share of the top-up shop mission – especially independent retailers.  We would urge wholesalers, (if not already), to look for advice on data strategies to fuel loyalty – remember data is the oil that turns your digital engine!

“We would also suggest that teams look to ‘re-imagine’ the workplace fit for 2021 and beyond and turn consumer sympathy for our channel’s economic plight, into tangible support”.

TWC is the industry’s leading data and digital expert – it has just announced the launch of TWC Trends, its new division which will track change and trends twice a year partnering the industry to enlighten, illuminate, and inform on issues that remain central to wholesaling and the supply chain.

For further details see here

For media information:

Caroline Hole-Jones:  +447867987675