Using figures produced by the tracking programme MealTrak, TWC says that although independent convenience has increased food-to-go by 9% in the last three months, the total market across all grocery retail outlets has jumped by 51%.

This has been driven by an 81% increase in food-to-go from discounters and a 63% increase from multiple convenience stores.

Tom Fender, development director at TWC, said: “Most convenience stores did extremely well over the pandemic, growing sales and attracting new customers.

“It was understandable that many retailers opted to scale back their food-to-go offer at that time, as consumers weren’t commuting or getting out and about very much; rather they were preparing most of their meals at home.

“But what we have seen in the last few months is the rapid return of consumers eating food-to-go again.”

“We all know the discounters have been attracting new shoppers as well as benefiting from returning lapsed shoppers. This always happens during economically challenging times.

“But discounters are not renowned for selling food-to-go items, so this should be a slight warning to local convenience operators that discounters are now competing on this mission too.

“Local independents should always have the advantage of knowing what’s happening in their local area and adapting their offer accordingly.”

Fender added that now is an ideal time for independent retailers to review their food-to-go range to maximise the current sales opportunity.

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