The convenience market is reaping the benefits of home and hybrid working, with the rise of local shopping driving new store openings, according to property consultancy Rapleys.
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, which saw a shift in people shopping locally as they stayed close to home, 1,266 new convenience stores have entered the market across the UK, excluding Northern Ireland.
Using data from the Local Data Company, Rapleys reported a net 175 convenience stores were added to communities in 2019, rising to 283 in 2020 as the pandemic hit. That was followed by a sharp rise in 2021, with 623 convenience stores joining the market, and a further 360 net gain in 2022.
Rapleys pointed to the rise in hybrid, flexible and home working as the core factor behind the convenience market’s resurgence.
According to the ONS, between September 2022 to January 2023, 44% of workers reported they were home or hybrid working, while 16% reported home working only, powering the trend of local retail, Rapleys said.
“With this quantum of people being at home for a much greater chunk of the week, their appetite for local convenience shopping has risen,” said Tim Richards, director at Aston Rose, part of Rapleys. “It’s much easier to pop out and grab some fresh produce from the local store and less pressure on the weekly shop.
“Hence, we are seeing supermarkets leaving the high street and focusing more on their smaller local stores, and independent convenience stores picking up the mantle and thriving, buoyed by local and more frequent custom.
“Independent convenience retail also has the added benefit of flexing their produce to suit their local catchment, something centralised supermarket stores cannot always do as they buy at scale, store products in hub warehousing and work on national data.
“Communities benefit from fresh local produce, regularly updated, which in turn inspires loyalty to their local store. If the average home or flexible worker visits their local convenience store just twice more a week, this has a huge positive impact on that retailer’s footfall and spend many times over.”