Visits to convenience stores are at an all-time high, but for the first time availability has replaced service as the main priority for shoppers, according to the latest version of the HIM Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP).
The figures for spring 2006 show that 23% of UK adults visit convenience stores each week at an average of three-and-a-half times a week, resulting in about 60 million visits to c-stores in each seven-day period. This compares with the 18% of UK adults who visit a restaurant and 18% who visit a coffee shop each week.
HIM sales and marketing director Tom Fender said that for the first time the CTP research now examines why customers made their shopping choices as well as where, when and how often, and he said that the findings identified the areas of fresh, gifting and price-marked packs as key opportunities for convenience retailers.
The survey found that fruit & veg is the top-selling department by those shoppers who top up in supermarkets, and only a quarter of c-store shoppers said they felt that their convenience store sells a suitably high-quality range of produce.
Fender said that gifting could and should be a huge opportunity for c-stores. He asked: "Isn't there an opportunity for the better packaging of existing products, let alone introducing new gifting products, to satisfy the need for local, fast and credible solutions?"
When asked, 45% of smokers said they thought a cigarette pricemarked pack meant that the price is lower than normal.
With this in mind, Fender questioned the practice of giving away so much margin on tobacco products.