The convenience store market is continuing to grow despite intense competition in the grocery sector, according to the Convenience Retailing 2001 report from the IGD. The annual report, which is used as a benchmark by all the major c-store operators, found that the market increased by 2.1% to £19.6bn during 2000. This meant the c-store market accounted for 20% of the total grocery market, which IGD calculated at £97.9bn But the total number of stores decreased 1.7% to 54,845, giving a like for like growth figure for the sector of 4.3%. The main winners, according to the report, were the co-ops, which managed to grow their market share by 6%, and the symbol groups which added 5.6% to their market share, although this was mainly due to an increased number of stores. Forecourts and the multiple c-store groups achieved the best like for like growth. Data on the non-affiliated sector of the market was supplied by The Knowledge Store, part of the William Reed Group which publishes The Grocer. It found the total number of non-affiliated independents dropped from 35,500 to 34,250, although they still make up 61.7% of the overall market. Looking to the future, IGD said the fundamentals for growth remained strong, with a more affluent society willing to pay a premium for convenience. However, the IGD warned that the fierce price competition in the grocery market could undermine the willingness of consumers to pay for premium priced products. And the report predicts that the overall market will grow to between £23.4bn and £25.2bn by 2006. {{NEWS }}