convenience store basket spend GRS

The combative tones of John Humphrys and his co-presenters on Radio 4’s Today programme are part of the morning ritual for millions. Now this bastion of news is tackling the Changing Nature of our Shopping Habits (R4, 17-19 August) for a three-part miniseries: it must be serious for Britain’s grocers.

We are “falling out of love with supermarkets” suggested correspondent Matthew Price, as a “new breed of shoppers” flits from c-store, to superstore, to discounter. It’s a change that threatens the big four.

It’s all old hat to readers of The Grocer, of course, but with three primetime news slots dedicated to the shift, there can be little doubt it’s now becoming common knowledge.

This left Waitrose MD Mark Price somewhat flustered in the studio as he extolled the virtues of the premium retailer’s pricier peppers, compared with those from Aldi and Lidl. “You get what you pay for” he insisted repeatedly, until the other Price was forced to interrupt.

Mary Portas was even wheeled out to (inexplicably) take some credit for the knock-on boost to markets as a result of the fragmented retail landscape, and there was a cursory nod to the potential disruption of Amazon Fresh.

The show concluded that the likes of Philip, a lecturer from Kent who spends less than five minutes in a c-store for each meal, are hardly “revolutionary warriors” among shoppers.

Instead, as those in the industry already know, these ‘new’ consumer habits are now firmly established. Yet that the likes of the BBC are taking note is testament to how radical the change has been.