Fmcg brands should wise up to the huge profit potential of convenience stores in the winter months, says Linda Horton

As the cold snap continues, many consumers will opt to walk to their local convenience store to stock up, rather than venture out on the potentially treacherous roads to the supermarkets.

However, many of the UK's renowned grocery brands are unable to take full advantage of convenience stores filling the gap as they place less emphasis on this route to market.

Fmcg manufacturers continue to consider supermarkets their most productive channel even though this is not necessarily the case, as the returns from the multiples have continued to diminish over time. It is crucial for independent retailers to examine the change in consumer, economic and merchandise trends all year round.

Severe winter weather certainly allows convenience stores the opportunity to encourage customers to shop locally and more frequently by ensuring that the shelves are adequately stocked with a good range of daily essentials.

The increase in footfall for convenience stores over the icy months plays a key part in trying to alter the shopping habits of customers, ensuring that they become regular shoppers.

It could therefore be argued that the adverse weather provide the perfect opportunity for fmcg manufacturers to influence the convenience store market.

However, this requires fmcg brands to gain a much greater understanding of the performance of shopping patterns and product sales in this sector, whether this is by category, brand, range, region or SKU performance, and to work more closely and productively with the wholesale sector to leverage a ­significant growth opportunity.

With more insight and focus on this sector, a white Christmas could provide fmcg manufacturers with their biggest opportunity to deliver a strong return on investment through the convenience sector, creating closer bonds between retailer, supplier and manufacturer ahead of the 4 January VAT hike, which is sure to put a strain on even the strongest commercial relationships.

Linda Horton is data manager at SalesOut.