Shoppers will be making fewer visits to big supermarkets and doing more grocery shopping online in the future, according to a major new study from HIM Research & Consulting.

The study, The Future of Convenience Stores, asked shoppers, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to give their views on how they expected key trends in the grocery market to unfold in the coming months.

Respondents in each category expected supermarket shopping visits to drop and home shopping via the internet to rise.

Opinion
I believe there is a huge untapped market out there for c-store retailers that doesn't have to cost huge amounts of time or money. However, they mustn't just copy what the multiples do. Even online, c-store retailers must play to their strengths. For example, when I relaunch my website this year I will start promoting my local food ranges heavily, and am even looking to launch a mail order system so that I can distribute our local goods nationally." 
Dan Cock, Whitstone Stores, Holsworthy,Devon 

It's more important than ever to make sure we listen to customers' needs, and having access to online shopping and delivery is one. Ours launched in January just when the snow hit and it helped us go above and beyond to help the community." Paul Hudson, Spar Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent
A quarter of shoppers say they will be doing more online grocery shopping in the next 12 months, with only 5% saying they will increase their use of out-of-town or high street supermarkets, and 10% saying they will be using them less. However, only 7% say they will be using convenience stores more as a result, the major shift being to the discounters.

Price and promotions figure strongly, with 65% of consumers saying they will spend more time shopping around for the best deals. Worryingly, 52% of shoppers say that they feel small stores "can't compete" with the supermarkets on deals, a view shared by 17% of independent store owners themselves. Local stores did score highly compared with the multiples on both customer service and local community involvement.

While c-store retailers feel they are adapting well to the changing economic climate, both consumers and suppliers believe that the pace of change within the industry is not as fast as it should be. More than half of shoppers would like online ordering for collection or delivery from their local c-store, and more than 90% demand more value products and promotions on everyday lines.

Most suppliers (61%) believe they are giving c-stores "a better deal" than last year, and 78% say they are devoting more resources to the sector. Among wholesalers, however, only 41% agree that suppliers are devoting more resources to the sector, with less than half believing that suppliers have dedicated communication strategies for c-stores.



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