The convenience market is expected to grow by more than 30% over the next five years as multiple operators and symbol groups continue to drive sales through the sector, according to the latest market analysis.

New data from IGD and WRBM, publisher of Convenience Store, shows that convenience multiples – 
notably those operated by the major supermarket chains – 
are making significant inroads into the convenience store market and now account for 8% of stores and 19% of sales in the sector. A total of 451 (net) new multiple-owned c-stores opened in the past year, an increase of more than 13%.

Despite this, and despite the sale of significant tranches of symbol-affiliated chains such as the 33 stores sold by Alfred Jones to One Stop, the net number of stores operating under a symbol group fascia continues to rise, and the channel is the dominant force in terms of convenience store sales, accounting for 42p in every pound spent in the market.

Unaffiliated independents continue to decline in numbers overall, but the rate of decline has slowed in recent years, and at 38% still have the largest market share in terms of store numbers. However, symbols are rapidly catching up at 34%, making it extremely likely that affiliated independent stores will outnumber unaffiliated ones within the next few years.

Co-operative-owned c-stores have also grown in terms of both sales and store numbers, led by acquisitions, mergers and new store openings among the regional societies. The number of c-store based forecourts declined slightly in line with the trend of recent years.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “The sector continues to build on its success and we’re forecasting almost £12bn in extra sales between now and 2019.

“Stores are benefiting from changing social demographics, such as smaller households, and shoppers spreading more of their spending across a variety of grocery formats.

“With all types of retailers focusing on convenience, it’s an exciting time to be involved in this sector. However, it is vital convenience shops stay close to shoppers’ changing needs and keep innovating to maintain this momentum.”

Format sales 2014 (£m) share (%) YOY change (%)
Symbol groups 15,537 42 5.1
Conv multiples 7,277 19 16.3
Unaffiliated Independents 6,528 17 -0.1
Co-operatives 4,125 11 2.3
Conv forecourts 3,962 11 -0.5
Total convenience 37,430 100 5.2
Source: IGD      
Format no of stores 2014 share (%) YOY change (%)
Unaffiliated Independents 18,630 38 -1
Symbol groups 17,080 34 2.8
Conv forecourts 7,418 15 -1.6
Conv multiples 3,771 8 13.6
Co-operatives 2,680 5 1.6
Total convenience 49,579 100 1.3
Source IGD / WRBM      
NB includes some double-counting as forecourts also trade under retail brands. True total is 47,294 stores.