Georgina Wild of HIM asks whether c-stores are delivering on shoppers' wish lists

Everything in retail starts and finishes with the shopper. But how well do you really know your shoppers and their changing needs?

The big question at the moment is whether the downward pressure of recession will start to ease, or whether there will be a double dip. Either way, lifestyles and consumer behaviour have changed and will continue to do so over the next 12 months as people adapt to their economic surroundings.

The latest results from HIM's recession study show that consumers will be doing more of the following over the next 12 months as a result of the shrinking economy:

31% will join loyalty card schemes. Do you currently offer a reward incentive?

31% will be cooking from scratch. Are you stocking basics such as mince, pasta and sauces? Consider creating Italian, Chinese or Mexican theme nights

24% say they will be walking to shops. To capitalise, put baskets near the door. Do you offer a drop-home service for the elderly?

22% are drinking at home. Stocking chilled beers, wines and mixers is a must as the majority of alcohol bought in c-stores will be consumed within the next hour

21% are buying more healthy food. As well as stocking fresh fruit and veg, merchandise fruit on the counter or nearby impulse aisles

18% will be having friends over for dinner or drinks. Consider stocking entertaining or sharing value packs.

All these results are good news for convenience stores. But we must make sure that we are delivering against our customers' needs.

Offer customers solutions, not just promotions, such as 'feed the family for a fiver', two dine in for £10, entertaining meal packs including a bottle of wine and so on.

Price is clearly a key driver during tight times, but while value for money is important, availability is still the primary concern for shoppers. Some 94% say that availability is very influential in choosing where to shop. If an item is not available then a c-store is not a 'convenience' store.

Speed of service is also growing more important to shoppers with 84% saying that it is influential in where they will do their grocery shopping.

The world is changing and shoppers are changing. Are you?

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