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Doom Watch: The Convenience Sector Is Doing Just Fine

Figures are repeatedly dropped by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI). They predict an ignoble death for the high street as we know it. CBI claims that UK retail sales fell in August at the fastest pace since December 2008. Yet, it’s not all markdowns and bankruptcy, should you delve behind the headlines. The convenience sector continues to provide rock solid results.

British shops are recording the second-worst retail figures since records began in 1983, if you believe the press. Unexpectedly weak sales have found large overhangs of stock, with employment figures significantly lower than forecast. It appears as though sentiment among retailers is crumbling.

It’s a different story for the UK’s convenience market, however. In stores associated with TRDP, average sales were down less than 1% year-on-year, with the summer’s inconsistent weather providing one reason for such a dip.

The graph below displays the average spend per basket across each year and month, highlighting two spikes where external influences found an increase in sales:

The same story applies to the number of average transactions over the last 12 months. Figures are only slightly less when compared with the year before.  This reduction in transaction numbers may be explained by changes in category spend within the sector, such as the gradual shift away from tobacco over recent years. The average basket across our sample of 2244  stores continues to exceed £6 per transaction. This bucks the apocalyptic downwards trend that media outlets currently discuss.

Published Retail Facts Don't Focus On Convenience Stores

The facts and figures presented by mainstream news platforms focus primarily on larger retailers, such as clothing outlets and high-street 'superbrands'. The huge shift towards online spending may disrupt the business models for retail giants, but the convenience sector continues to grow, courtesy of the sector’s niche stake in the market.

There are plenty of examples where record market progress continues. Employee-owned wholesaler Parfetts has announced substantial growth for the year ending June 2019. Both sales and profit are up significantly. The group's turnover climbed some 9.8% to £380m. Like-for-like sales, excluding cigarettes, grew 5%, according to KamCity.

So, while it remains true that shoppers make fewer trips to the high street, visits to convenience stores haven't been affected. Although research proves that every 'one pound in five' is spent via the internet, the C sector provides a service that online business rarely offers - convenience! People will forever require last minute food items while on the move.

In essence, companies and independent retailers need to adapt to the rapidly changing habits expressed by modern-day shoppers. The C sector leads the way in doing just that. From providing hot food and necessities, to postal and payment services, local shops continue to adhere to current trends and move with the times. Something that larger brands struggle to manage with efficiency.

As such, the published figures spouting doom and gloom don’t necessarily reflect the convenience sector. For more information on UK sales, contact our data team.
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