Convenience stores – helping shoppers through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Date : 23 April 2020

I have been focusing on convenience shopper insight since joining IGD back in 2007. The impact of the financial crisis back then was long lasting and had a big impact on shopper behaviour.

The recent spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the government announcements to avoid "non-essential" travel and contact with others to curb the virus is leading to potentially bigger changes to the way people lead their lives.

Convenience growth

The convenience channel has been a key success story over this time period. Between 2007 and 2019, convenience has remained one of the faster growing channels in the UK grocery market, adding £14.9bn of value.

Higher demand in convenience stores

Our latest ShopperVista convenience shopper insight reveals that more people are mainly using convenience stores for their food and grocery shopping. This comes at a time when strict social distancing measures are in place limiting the number of customers particularly in larger stores.

With more people mainly shopping at convenience stores, we are seeing more top-up and main shop missions.

This follows reports (see our recent Industry bulletin) that convenience stores are continuing to experience a significant uplift in basket spend, with shoppers buying more core grocery items from these stores.

With restrictions being introduced into many stores regarding opening hours and access into stores, more people are choosing to shop at convenience stores as it is quicker and easier in-store.

Planning for the new ‘normal’

Sooner or later, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will end and there will be a ‘new normal’.  Shopper experiences of the Coronavirus period will affect the way that they engage with grocery businesses.

Shoppers may well look kindly on the breadth of the convenience store offer and the way convenience stores have been playing a key role in helping to feed the vulnerable in local communities.

Convenience stores are also going to need to offer excellent value for money during this time. Our new Shopper Confidence Index declined by four points in March’20 to -9. This is the lowest it has been since Sep’19 when it was at a low of -10.  This follows new research from the Office for Budget Responsibility suggesting a 35% reduction in UK real GDP in Q2 2020, with output gradually recovering over Q3 and Q4.

We will continue to monitor changes in shopper behaviour and sentiment on ShopperVista during these unprecedented times to help you in your short and long-term planning.

Find out more how IGD Solutions experts can help you to challenge your thinking and support the creation of robust post-Covid-19 plans