The past few years have seen the convenience channel develop into one of the strongest sectors thanks to retailer understanding of core shopper missions, particularly top-up and newsagent. But with growing pressures facing the channel, convenience needs to re-focus on these to ensure its long-term success, writes HIM’s Sophie Jones.

Top-up has always been at the heart of convenience, yet HIM research shows that trade spend is down 4% year on year. The competition from supermarkets and discounters has been a factor in this. It is the quality perception of fresh produce that is resulting in shoppers migrating from convenience to other channels. However, the battle will be won with three key categories: fresh fruit and veg, milk and bread.

HIM research reveals that these categories are driving adults to top-up shop. Offering a good range, as well as value, will be vital in winning back shoppers. And with top-up shoppers spending on average 22% more than the typical convenience shopper, the potential is clear.

Retailers must also look to defend the newsagent mission. With restrictive government policies and advancements in digital media, we can anticipate further challenges for retailers who rely on cigarettes and newspapers. While retailers may at first consider limiting the space to these categories, HIM research shows that a quarter of all newspapers and two-fifths of all tobacco products are bought from the same store. These categories attract huge loyalty and repeat custom.

Alongside all this, the food-to-go mission has seen a huge growth. Retailers have been smart in making sure they are meeting shoppers’ needs for eating conveniently and on-the-go. But with this mission comes complexities such as tough competition and managing an effective range.

Armed with the knowledge that 40% of top-up shoppers use c-stores for food-to-go/meal for tonight, it will be easier to convert the already valuable top-up and newsagent shoppers to buy meal occasions, too, rather than recruit new shopper types altogether. While the future is looking bright, retailers must remember the core mission convenience was built on.