GettyImages-1145096265 shopping basket

The rising cost of living has started to impact convenience stores, new research has found.

According to the latest Lumina Intelligence Convenience Tracking Programme which covers the 12 weeks to 3 April 2022, frequency, spend and basket size in the channel have all dropped despite an increase in penetration.

Despite an increase of 5.1ppts in penetration compared to the previous 12 weeks (12WE 09 January 2022), frequency, spend and basket size all declined. Average visit frequency declined -8.4% to 2.6 times per week, basket size fell -2.3% to 2.8 items per trip and spend -11.8% to £9.33 per visit.

The rise in penetration was driven by a number of factors, including sporting events, such as the Six Nations and Formula One, as well as more shoppers being out and about after eased Plan B restrictions.

Senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence, Katherine Prowse, attributed the dip in frequency, spend and basket size to cautious consumers. “As we face into this rising cost of living crisis, consumers will become more cautious on how and where they spend their money,” she said. “This is already evident, with spend, frequency and basket size all declining in our latest 12-week period. However, the increase in penetration provides retailers with a big opportunity to demonstrate the value that they offer to a wider audience. If they can demonstrate this, alongside their fantastic community spirit, then the opportunities to grow during challenging times will present themselves.”

The research also found that in-store purchases saw a boost of +4ppts in the last 12 weeks, after eased Plan B restrictions and shoppers returning to their pre pandemic habits. In-store shopping accounted for 91.5% of all convenience store occasions. The in-store boost has come at the expense of delivery and click and collect both declining in share by 3ppts and 1ppt, respectively, in the 12WE 03/04/2022.

The top up (distress) mission has seen the strongest growth in missions share of occasions, up by +1.2ppts. More shoppers are out and about and back to workplaces, with drink to go occasions increasing by +1ppt and contributing to lower spend and basket size. Treat led occasions have also increased by +1ppt, driven by seasonal events including Valentine’s Day and the run up to Easter.