David Rees: Editor's comment

All posts from: January 2013

Stick or twist?

Posted by: David Rees Tue, 15 Jan 2013

Whoever you ask and wherever you look, it is clear that shopping locally, little and often, is becoming increasingly important for consumers. There’s lots of reasons for it: high fuel prices causing a reduction in car journeys the desire to stop wasting food by buying less on each trip and shoppers having less time in general, and less money.

As with many things in life, the trend is both good news and bad news. For many retailers, the past few years have been a virtuous circle. The growth in local shopping has given retailers confidence to invest in their stores, which has meant improvements in range and shopper comfort, further boosting sales. That’s all good news.

However, local shopping is not the same as independent shopping. While many independently-owned stores have prospered, many other perfectly good stores have slumped when a multiple retailer opens nearby. And with the major grocery multiples struggling for growth in their larger outlets, they are steaming into the neighbourhood sector or, as is the case with Morrisons, getting left behind.

Making an investment in developing a better store would normally be a no-brainer, with an almost guaranteed payback. But the prospect of a multiple opening up nearby means best-laid plans can be undermined before you start.

So it’s less of a no-brainer, more of a head-scratcher. And in some cases retailers are reacting by selling up altogether. It’s their choice, of course, but I still think that there are more rewards to be gleaned from the local store sector, and we will only get them by continuing to invest.

Welcome to 2013

Posted by: David Rees Fri, 4 Jan 2013

A happy new year to everyone, and I hope that trading was brisk during the festive period. As far as we can tell, the independent convenience trade had a good time of it over Christmas, as the hard work of providing the right range, service and availability throughout the year paid off with customer loyalty during the annual food-fest bonanza.

Let’s hope 2013 continues in that spirit. This time last year we were looking forward to the Jubilee, the Olympics and a whole host of other events. In comparison, this year, on the surface at least, offers nothing to look forward to.

Personally, I think 2013 could be a momentous year for UK retail. My gut feeling is that yet more big-name high street operators will bite the dust as hopes of a Christmas boost failed to materialise. In food retail specifically, I think we are set for big changes too, as further store chain acquisitions and some major decisions on supply partners will be made, transforming the structure of the industry.

And how will independent operators fare? The team at C-Store has carried out an analysis of the independent convenience sector in our pages this week. And we think that, despite the challenges and the competition, there are still plenty of opportunities; both by capturing new customers and to work your existing business even better.

2013 will be all about maximising and minimising – maximising your footfall, sales and community impact, and minimising your costs and your losses to the competition. So the trade will be tightening belts and battening down hatches, but I am sure that most readers of C-Store will end up looking back on 2013 as another year where they not just survived, but thrived.

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