The latest market figures from IGD value symbol group sales at £10.4bn in the 12 months to April 2009, up 7.7% on the previous year. This was achieved despite a growth in store numbers of only 2% to 14,630. Overall, the convenience store market achieved sales of £29.1bn - an annual rise of 6.1% - from a total market of 48,751 stores (down by 1.6%). Following the pattern of recent years, this value growth once again outstripped that in the grocery sector overall, where sales are increasing by 5.1%.
Unaffiliated independents continue to decline in numbers, although remaining stores performed reasonably well, with average sales growth of more than 4%. However, store numbers in this sector fell by 5% to a new low of 21,950, due in part to ongoing recruitment by symbol groups.
Elsewhere in the convenience market, multiple operators continued to expand with an 8% increase in store numbers to 2,812 and a 12.7% increase in sales, while the Co-op sector achieved an increase in turnover of 7.9% from a largely static store base. Forecourt numbers are up for the first time in many years, with a net increase of 12 stores, possibly signalling an end to the recent pattern of site closures.
IGD senior business analyst Stewart Samuel told C-Store: "These figures demonstrate the resilience of grocery in a tough climate, and we shouldn't underestimate how well the
c-store market has performed in the past year. We are forecasting continued growth with market value reaching £39.7bn by 2014. We also expect symbol groups to continue to expand."
He added: "Against a backdrop of recession, price inflation and rising unemployment it will be tough to get sales growth, but
c-store retailers have already responded proactively by attracting spend away from foodservice operators and with an increased focus on value."
❝Being part of a symbol group makes my job easier. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have the range of products and I'd spend all my time chasing suppliers. A symbol group offers huge support."
Londis Weymouth, Dorset
❝The Holborn's brand is well known and trusted in the community, and if we joined a group we would lose that. We are doing very well despite the economy, and I believe one of our strongest points is our name and history."
Holborn's, Redhill, Surrey
❝ We are part of the Booker retail club which allows us to retain our independence and benefit from deals and pos. It's the best of both worlds."
Frankmarsh Stores, Devon