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UK convenience sector remains resilient - August performance highlights

There was a positive mood at the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) launch of The Local Shop Report 2019 earlier this month. The report records an increase in convenience outlet numbers. At the same time, TRDP are pleased to report improved year-on-year figures from our estate of independent standalone stores. While footfall remained down year-on-year at -1.9% in August 2019, the decline slowed compared with -4.2% in July. In spite of subdued footfall, average sales per store grew by 2.3% helped by increased basket spend which was 27 pence higher than a year ago.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Despite challenging retail conditions over the last year, convenience stores have invested over £633m, improving their businesses and taking on a wider range of products and services to meet the needs of ever more demanding consumers.” Our data shows that more independent retailers embraced emerging and growing categories such as alcoholic ready-to-drink pre-mixes (+38%), vaping (+22%) and innovative tobacco accessories (+17%) that performed strongly in August. Traditional categories such as Alcohol (+6.2%), Snacks (+5.3%), Tobacco (+2.5%), and Chilled Foods (+2.5%) performed well too, helped by the August bank holiday.

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco sales performed exceptionally well (+8.2%) compared with factory made cigarettes (FMC) that just about stayed in positive territory (+0.6%). Bill payment services – as much as 20% of turnover in some independent convenience stores – continued to decline at -0.2% vs July and -4.5% Year on Year.

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