Whether it is national occasions such as Easter or Mother’s Day, or something more local, special events can build sales for c-stores

The convenience sector is uniquely placed to fully maximise and exploit events; whether that is giving national events a local twist, or really focusing on local events to benefit the local community as a whole.

With an ever-increasing plethora of national events such as Valentine’s Day, Pancake Day and Mother’s Day, shoppers are becoming used to brands and stores using these events for their national marketing campaigns. As a result, the convenience sector needs to focus on making national events local, or more specific to the store’s customer base, in order to offer a point of difference.

The common question we are often asked is how can this be executed in-store? Using a recent example of Valentine’s Day, if we look at a store which is located with a high population of students nearby there would be an opportunity to attract a wider shopper base outside of couples.

Since February 2015, ‘Galentines’ has been a rising trend, with interest growing year on year especially amongst Millennials and Gen Z. Perhaps it is currently a bit too far outside of the box, but by creating alternative solutions around traditional key events, retailers will not only drive basket size, but their stores will also become an interesting destination and an experience to shop at.

Events are the ideal opportunity for retailers to encourage gifting. For example, in 2017 82% said they had bought Easter chocolate as a gift to somebody else and some 51% of these said they bought it for their children. It is clear, therefore, that products aimed at children will likely receive the highest level of engagement. Suppliers and retailers should get creative, for example by providing Easter egg hunt products appropriate for children. Buying edible gifts for others for special occasions is not unique for Easter, with 31% saying they bought edible gifts, often rising to 38% for those aged between 25-34.

Becoming a destination is key for driving repeat visits and retailers are increasingly looking at ways to create ‘everyday’ events. Mital Morar, Ancoats General Store in Manchester, hosts weekly quiz nights that allow his store to become a hub and a destination for locals driving a sense of community with his store at the centre.

Other retailers we spoke to work closely with suppliers to help maximise small ‘national days’. For example, Atul Sodha utilised his partnership with Pladis on National Biscuit Day and hosted an in-store biscuit dunk-off. Small but effective events such as this help make the everyday an event and the convenience sector has the flexibility to react quickly providing this sector with an edge over others.

Put on a show for maximum effect

Meten Lakhani

“Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are big ones. We put out displays of chocolates, cards and cuddly toys at the front of the shop so it hits the customer as soon as they walk in.

“Christmas is important, too, and Easter has picked up again. We dialled it down over the past three years, but last year our sales grew.

“Another event that really seems to have grown is Pancake Day. We have a lot of students in the area and they like to experiment. We do a seven -metre display with pancake mix, syrups, Nutella and lemon. Every year, no matter what we order, we sell out.

“When it comes to the community, they support us so we support them. When they have summer fairs we always donate.”

Meten Lakhani

St Mary’s Supermarket, Southampton