Our new research has found that the level of impulse purchasing in convenience stores is at an impressive five-year high, writes HIM’s Katie Littler. An astounding 18% of shoppers say they bought an item they hadn’t arrived intending to buy, up from 15% last year and 14% in 2013. This is fantastic news for the convenience sector.

So what are retailers and suppliers doing to drive this level of impulsive purchasing? Interrupting shopping behaviour in a convenience store is no easy task – three-in-four shoppers want to get in and out as quickly as possible and 42% don’t notice any communications or signage in-store. But we’ve seen both retailers and suppliers putting a real focus on ‘interrupting and inspiring’ their shoppers in-store in order to disrupt this auto-pilot behaviour.

The number one driver of impulse purchasing is promotions, according to shoppers. But it’s not just the cost saving that tempts them – the focus and visibility given to promotional products also help them get noticed by shoppers.

Many retailers are also offering cross-category promotions to drive cross-category impulse purchases. We know that many shoppers aren’t buying the obvious associated categories in c-stores. For example, 58% of shoppers who are in store to buy lunch-to-go aren’t buying a soft drink, while 95% of ‘meal for tonight’ shoppers don’t buy any kind of dessert.

Many retailers have focused on both macro and micro store layout and mission management. For example, one in five shoppers want inspiration for their evening meal, and increasingly retailers are providing meal solutions for their shoppers by grouping associated products together, providing recipe ideas, suggesting drinks or sauces which complement meals to drive incremental purchases.

One key area that retailers and suppliers really shouldn’t ignore when trying to drive impulse purchasing is the till and queue area. One in 10 impulse shoppers pick up the product from this part of store. Make sure it’s an area that gets plenty of your thought and attention as it’s the one area which all shoppers will visit. In fact, one in five shoppers ONLY go to till area, so it really is hot property!