Analysis of customers’ behaviour has revealed trends which favour the convenience format, such as an increase in eating at home and cooking from scratch. HIM says that with many supermarket chains increasing the space given to own-label lines, c-stores could pitch themselves as “the home of brands”. It suggests that bread could become the main source of carbohydrate in some households and that families may eat more at breakfast to last them through the day. Frozen food will increase in popularity as it reduces waste, and an opportunity exists in food to go and good quality hot coffee, sold cheaper than in the coffee chains. HIM also urged retailers to remind customers that they match supermarket prices on key items such as newspapers, magazines and National Lottery. “We hope the list of opportunities for convenience retailers is something positive in light of all the doom and gloom talk,” said HIM marketing manager Georgina Wild. “Even in these challenging times there are plenty of opportunities for independent retailers to grow sales. “By listening to customers and being pro-active in looking for trends in the market, smaller businesses can adapt to change quicker than the multiples.

“Keep an eye on information offered by wholesalers, symbol groups and the trade press. But, most importantly, remain focused on delivering superior customer service and you will grow sales.”