The ACS has released its annual study on British convenience stores, highlighting their contributions to UK's communities.
The Local Shop Report 2019 is an extensive report that provides valuable insights into the convenience sector. The report is the result of intensive primary research. Overall, 2371 independent businesses and co-operatives, comprising over 7300 total stores, were surveyed for the report.
Convenience stores are at the core of the UK economy, with 46,388 shops on the UK mainland. They account for £40.3 billion in total sales, invest more than £633 million, and employ more than 400,000 people. It is clear, therefore, that they are a vital part of the British economic and social fabric. The analysis is divided into four sections. First, the report covers the impact of convenience stores’ geographic location. Secondly, the role of their opening times is discussed. Thirdly, their ability to adapt themselves to the ever-changing technological landscape is explored. Finally, convenience stores’ contributions to their local community are covered.
The majority of convenience stores are located in urban and suburban areas. For example, London alone has almost 6,000 stores, with one shop for every 1,541 people. A vast number of stores are located in dense city centres. Even though the growth of e-commerce has impacted the high street, convenience stores have been able to successfully adapt to these challenges, striving whilst established retail chains such as Forever 21, BHS, Debenhams and Maplins have struggled to maintain their place on the high street. In city centres, convenience stores have been one of the most durable business types and the apparent “death of the high street” has been transformed from a crisis into an opportunity.
Interestingly, more customers Google search for convenience stores during the week of Christmas than any other period. It shows how one of the main upsides of these shops is their strategic position in urban areas. 57% of convenience store customers walk to the shop and 21% walk less than 100 yards.
Another reason why the convenience sector is still thriving might be because stores have shown a progressive willingness to modernise, offering new services and products to keep on increasing their revenue streams. Convenience stores invest in new technologies and services to gain and maintain a competitive advantage over their peers. For example, 26% offer click and collect services to increase footfall and cross-selling opportunities.
The success of convenience stores does not only come from their positions and their product offerings but from their typically long opening hours too. The traditional convenience store or newsagent is open from 7 am until 10 pm, on average open for 14.8 hours, Monday to Saturday and 13.2 hours on Sundays. Long opening hours translate into reliability for customers who know they can depend on them for last-minute grocery shopping and parcel collection. The majority of customers go into their local convenience store every day, with a UK average of 3.8 times per week.
Lastly, convenience stores are deeply embedded in their local communities. 78% of independent retailers were engaged in some form of community activity in the past year. For example, 70% collect money for a national or local charity and 14% donate to a food bank.
In conclusion, convenience stores are fuelling the high street by attracting customers back to brick-and-mortar stores. Their ability to accommodate a variety of customers’ needs is what determines their success. Parcelly’s mission has always been to collaborate with local businesses of all kinds and to assist them in their digital transformation to maximise their full potential. Through our services, such as Hyper-Local Fulfilment and Click & Collect, Parcelly helps local businesses to benefit from the exponential growth of global e-commerce and to drive footfall and cross-selling opportunities. In our belief, efficient utilisation of excess space in local shops is the answer to resolve any first and last-mile challenges.
Header: Source, Association of Convenience Stores, UK, 2018