Convenience stores have been more important than ever to the lives of local people over the last two years, and we expect retailers to build on these strengthened relationships with customers as we hopefully move toward a post-Covid society. One of the ways that stores have solidified themselves at the heart of their communities has been through the provision of services locally, whether it be a home delivery or click and collect service, providing banking services or a cash machine in store, or even more niche services like pharmacy counters. With more people looking at working from home during the week, the local shopping trend shows no sign of slowing down so being able to provide services as well as groceries will be a key to success.
When we ask consumers about the businesses that have the most positive impact in their community locally, convenience stores are number one. This isn’t just because of the range of products and services that they offer, but because convenience stores operate as a force for good locally, providing a social space, helping to tackle loneliness, keeping people safe, promoting wellbeing, and providing secure, flexible jobs. This sometimes intangible benefit that stores offer is something that we’ll be focusing on in our communications throughout the year in 2022.
One of the biggest challenges facing the sector next year is going to be the introduction of new regulations on the placement and promotion of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products. For many retailers, this will require a complete rethink of the layout of the store and its promotional strategy. We’re in the process of producing industry leading Assured Advice on this issue, which will be ready for retailers to follow ahead of the implementation date to ensure that they stay on the right side of Trading Standards. While this marks a big change for lots of stores, we’re confident that retailers will adapt successfully and use the change as an opportunity to review their range and boost the profile of different categories like fruit and veg in store.