Convenience stores have become the backbone of our communities
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many UK businesses have struggled financially, with many closing their doors and facing the possibility of never opening them again. However, whilst many companies face tougher market conditions than ever, the grocery sector is benefitting from unprecedented growth.
Supermarkets, corner shops, and convenience stores have all seen a surge in demand, despite potential safety concerns. This has largely been attributed to the rise of online deliveries, which have increased by 75% in the last month, now representing 11.5% of the grocery market.
Corner shops, convenience stores and independent grocery stores reported a 63% surge in trade during the peak of coronavirus, as shoppers began to turn to local outlets to avoid crowded and understocked supermarkets.
This change in shopping behaviour is equally backed by a report published by analysts Kantar. Kantar found that independently owned grocery stores were outperforming their larger supermarket counterparts, growing at almost double the rate. This growth came as a result of consumers looking for alternative shopping arrangements that facilitated greater safety, as well as greater stock.
Many shoppers resorted to their local independent stores, for their essentials, as the vast majority of supermarkets struggled to keep pace with demand, and many grew tired of overcrowded shopping environments.
Convenience shops have been in a unique position to adapt and take advantage of this surge in demand, in which so many larger supermarkets struggled with. The planning and agility of smaller independent stores granted by a tight supply chain is now paying them dividends. With a smaller customer base, convenience stores have been able to observe changes in consumer demand to a greater extent than supermarkets, allowing them to stock their shelves with products in demand.
Steve Leach, Sales Director for Nisa (a convenience store manager/supplier), when asked by Forbes about their efforts to maintain service to customers said:
“Independent retailers have a real advantage over the corporate supermarket groups because they can react very quickly and are often very innovative in their response. We have seen lots of ideas from Nisa partners over the past [months] with retailers offering free delivery services or accepting orders over the phone for their most vulnerable regulars.”
“This helps build brilliant relationships with their customers which is more important than ever in the current climate.”
Ensure your business model is tech-enabled and future proof
In order to become less exposed to external market shocks, businesses should look to invest in strengthening their in-store experience, as well as strengthening their relationships with their supply chain.
Stores. Is your business able to adopt contactless payments? Does your EPOS system support smart inventory management? These are all areas that a smart EPOS system can assist your business in.
Supply chain. Do you have close links with your wholesalers and distributors? Is your supply chain diverse enough to withstand the potential impact of Brexit and other external market shocks?
E-commerce. Does your business seamlessly integrate with your online sales pipeline in order to provide a unique, individual shopping experience for your customers?
The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted like never before, the dependency of many on the small, independent corner shop and convenience store - many have become the backbone of their respective communities.