Only 6% of the UK’s truly independent retailers pan to join a symbol group in the next 12 months despite the advent of the multiples into the c-store sector, according to the most recent Cash & Carry Convenience Tracking Programme carried out by Harris International Marketing.
The study also found that those who use cash and carries spend too long away from their businesses and are least likely to visit trade shows, exhibitions or other industry “learning” occasions.
They also view temporary price reductions (35%) and bogofs (30%) as the best promotional mechanics. The study recorded that 14% of the C& C customers were members of a symbol group and 85% were true independents.
Store owners comprised 74% and they visit on average three different depots a week, which says HIM managing director Tom Fender, “is too much time away from the business”. Location and convenience are the major factors in determining the choice of C&C (80%), but the fact those questioned not only visit their main C&C three times a week but use 2.6 different C&Cs a month points to lack of efficiency over both buying and use of time. Only 18% of those questioned attend trade shows or exhibitions “once or twice a year” although 36% would like to receive more information from suppliers on ranging, layout and merchandising.
The importance of the prices to their businesses was rated 9.3 out of a top mark of 10. Retailers placed availability as the second most important, scoring 9.2, speed of service was third with 8.7, helpful and friendly staff were rated at 8.6 while promotions and store standards came in at 8.3.
Fresh foods came last at 6.7, signifying a low appreciation of the importance of fresh foods, even though that is an area experiencing the most growth, margin and the highest customer demand.
Beer and cigarette promotions most catch the eye of C&C customers - 32% noticed beer promotions and 28% noticed confectionery promotions followed by household items (13%), cigarettes (8%) and bread (4%). Fender says: “True independence is much prized as only a minority plan to affiliate. However, and despite much talk about the demise of the independent operator, C&C customers have the most opportunity to improve sales if they spend more time finding out what customers want, especially in core categories.”