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Convenience store sales more than DOUBLE following the COVID-19 pandemic

The growth of British convenience store sales have more than doubled this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with customers rushing to support local businesses, new data reports.

Sales are up eight per cent, compared to the three per cent achieved last year, according to market insight experts Mintel. 

And a quarter of Britons say they are now shopping more with local businesses due to the coronavirus crisis while 80 per cent of shoppers agreed that convenience stores provide an essential service for the community.

Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail Research, said: ‘A major long term positive of the crisis will be how the “essential” status of convenience stores in communities will be reinforced.’  

The significant increase in in-home food and drink experienced as a result of COVID-19 will see the convenience store market increase from £44.1billion in 2019 to an estimated £47.5 billion in 2020, according to the data.   

This is despite the hit to ‘on-the-go trade’ such as items eaten out-of home – including those for breakfast and lunch. 

This rate of growth is outperforming the wider grocery sector, which is expected to increase by around six per cent in 2020. 

While Brits flocked to local stores during lockdown, the peak in demand is estimated not to continue into 2021 – especially social distancing measures continue to be relaxed and consumer budgets are squeezed further. 

Mintel estimates a decline of 3.9 per cent in the market next year, as it rebalances before reaching more consistent lower growth through to 2024 (of 2-3 per cent).

According to the research,  94 per cent of shoppers use a convenience store at least once a month.

Nick said: ‘The shift to localised shopping during the peak of COVID-19 has benefited the convenience sector, driving larger-basket demand and sales as consumers necessarily shopped more in their local communities.

‘Longer term, the importance of convenience stores within these communities and consumers’ desire to support them will only be reinforced – providing a solid platform for convenience retailers to build upon.’

He continued: ‘Not all aspects of the sector, however, are benefiting. On-the-go food and drink, for example, is a significant part of convenience trade and has naturally been constricted by lower levels of public movement and more working at home since the lockdown. In particular this has impacted convenience stores in travel hubs.’ 

‘It is encouraging for the sector that providing essential services to the community is widely held by today’s shoppers – this is what convenience stores are all about.  

Nick added: ‘Localism and a more internal looking consumer base was a trend far before COVID-19, but naturally confined to local areas, consumers have become more aware and engaged with their communities. 

‘Combined with this is a growing realisation of the need to support small business owners.’ 

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