Retailers are failing to capitalise on meal occasions, according to exclusive research revealed at the Convenience Store conference held in London last week (3 February).

Jill Livesey (pictured), managing director at HIM, reported that only about 40% of c-store retailers offer coffee or hot food to go, and only 6% plan to invest in these areas. Currently only 18% of shoppers visit c-stores for food to go and just 4% for meals for tonight, suggesting there is a “massive opportunity” to capture that market.

What’s more, 58% of retailers don’t tell their shoppers they have meal-time solutions outside the store, just 17% use leaflets and only 1% of retailers use social media.

Livesey reminded delegates that leaflets are one of the most effective ways to communicate with shoppers, and 50% of 16- to 24-year-olds look at Facebook when they wake up, so these are two huge untapped opportunities.

Livesey said the new generation of shoppers are busy and had fewer cooking skills, with c-stores perfectly placed to provide these consumers with quick, easy meal solutions.

She advised retailers they must act fast to compete against a ‘new breed of competitors’ as supermarkets, takeaways and eateries tap into the meal occasions opportunity. Cafés are making it quicker and easier to buy food to go, while online takeaway sites such as Deliveroo and Just Eat are covering the meal-for-tonight mission. Ocado has been targeting train stations, giving money-off vouchers to commuters, so they won’t be popping to a local shop for their dinner.

For more on the conference, see C-Store, February 26.