Sweet Talk convenience

Co-operatives are forecast to record the fastest growth – up 12% year on year – followed by unaffiliated independents 

  • Shoppers have turned to convenience for main and planned top-up shopping during the pandemic

  • The trend is expected to continue as lockdown is eased as risk-averse consumers favour in-home consumption


Growth in the UK convenience retail market is set to soar in 2020 as the coronavirus crisis pushes more shoppers towards local, smaller stores, with co-ops to benefit the most, according to a new report by Him and MCA Insight.

The UK Convenience Market Report 2020 showed the sector was expected to grow 8% to £44.7bn this year – up from a 2.6% increase in 2019.

When split out by store type, co-operatives were forecast to record the fastest growth – up 12% year on year. Unaffiliated independents are set to grow 11%, symbol stores 7%, forecourt stores 6% and convenience multiples 6%.

The report highlighted increased volume and sales during the coronavirus lockdown period. Him & MCA Insight expected the trend to continue even as lockdown eased as risk-averse consumers favoured in-home consumption, as well as watching discretionary spend.

Convenience retail had benefited from larger basket sizes and spend since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the report said.

Basket value had grown 17% year on year to £7.46 and average basket size was 2.5 items – up from 2.3 in 2019.

Shoppers had also turned to convenience for main and planned top-up shopping during lockdown, with independent retailers more flexible when faced with stock pressures. Planned top-up shops had increased four percentage points year on year, accounting for 22% of all convenience trips in 2020.

Blonnie Walsh, head of insight at Him & MCA Insight, said the turn of the decade had seen a transformative year for the convenience retail market.

“Convenience retailers have been forced to adapt to new basket dynamics and an evolving core consumer base,” she added.

“A shift in shopper missions has resulted in increased basket spend and size, rewarding retailers for the support and commitment they have shown to their local communities.

“Provenance has been a growing trend for some time, and we continue to see increases in the proportion of shoppers choosing a particular store in order to support local businesses. The lockdown will only have accelerated this trend and retailers can leverage this by highlighting local credentials, including work with local suppliers.”