During any recession people work longer hours, and as a consequence eating out of the home becomes a way of life for many. You only have to look at sales at Greggs, Domino’s and McDonald’s to realise that the demand for cheaper, quick on-the-go meal solutions is a trend that’s here to stay. Each year HIM speaks to thousands of customers while they are shopping at convenience stores to understand the motivations and behaviour of those who use the outlets. As part of the programme HIM spoke to customers on a food-for-now mission – ‘to buy food and drink for consumption in the next few hours out of home’. Some 21% of c-store customers were there to buy items to eat immediately. Of those customers on a food-for-now mission, 50% were buying items to eat or drink as a snack between meals; only 8% were buying something for breakfast; and 42% were buying something for lunch. However, there is slippage on food-to-go products at lunchtimes and at weekends, which means c-store retailers aren’t fulfilling all customers’ intentions. Given that the average food-for-now customer spends £4.04 and visits 3.7 times a week (a high visit frequency) they are highly valuable customers to c-stores. Of those customers HIM spoke to who were not on a food-for-now mission, 34% said they would buy ready-made sandwiches and wraps from the store, 18% said they would buy freshly made coffee, and 19% said they would buy pasties/sausage rolls from the store, so there is a huge opportunity to encourage more customers to buy. Tips for retailers

l Breakfast remains an opportunity so offer bakery products, fruit salad pots, yogurts and so on as a meal solution

l Make sure stock is replenished for key trading times, but remember that lunch is not necessarily between 12 and 2pm l Clearly communicate breakfast, lunch and dinner solutions by zoning and signage l Keep all food-for-now items together and have parasite units with impulse purchases such as chocolate and crisps l Offer meal deals.