The Remarkable Resilience of Convenience Retail

Most communities have at their heart a convenience store. These sometimes take the form of franchised outlets under brand names, but the majority are independent.

In a world dominated by supermarkets and online shopping, the humble corner shop has a lot to contend with. Despite this, the total global convenience store market revenue reached USD 3,256 billion in 2017, according to Global Data (Global Convenience Stores Retailing, 2017-2022). It’s grown significantly since then.

The format’s enduring success is down to a few factors:

1. Convenience (of course!)

It’s not just the convenience retailers who compete on convenience; all retailers have to these days, but local shops have been leading the way on what it means to be super-convenient for decades.

2. Understanding

Long before modern retailers analysed ‘big data’, convenience retailers did this the old-fashioned way by talking to their customers.

3. Adaptation

A significant growth area for convenience retail in recent decades has been to put products not usually associated with the channel such as hot drinks and food-to-go conveniently within reach. The last few years have also seen the introduction of services such as mobile phone top-up, bill payment, cashback, parcel posting and collection, and ATM machines.

What’s more, there are 3 ways that the sector can look to increase footfall further. Innovation shouldn’t be the preserve of the technology giants and the global FMCG brands.

1. Co-opetition: Trade associations should promote co-ordinated campaigns which extol the virtues of the sector, thereby driving awareness of services.

2. Community: These stores have ready-made networks, while the restrictions of ‘lockdown’ mean that local stores now play an even more relevant role in our lives.

3. Commitment: What makes convenience retail so effective is its commitment to customers. The coming decade could be the right time to encourage more people to consider the contribution that convenience retail can make to their lives.

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