Convenience store usage has crept up from a low of 47% in 2001 to 54% of shoppers in 2003. But c-store retailers' opinions of suppliers over the past year have not improved, despite 12 months of consolidation in the market.
Harris International Marketing's 2003 Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) reveals that shoppers visit independent standalones an average of 3.9 times per week, and managed standalones 3.5 times. Forecourt shoppers visit 2.2 times, consistent with the previous two years.
Spend in all three channels is up from 2002. Managed standalones have seen the most increase, with customers spending £5.31 per trip compared to £4.06 three years ago. Shoppers at independent standalones now spend £4.41 compared to £3.34 in 2000, and at forecourts £3.83 (£3.16).
Grocery, news, confectionery, milk and bread top the list in managed chains, while in forecourts confectionery is followed by news, cigarettes and soft drinks.
It is the same old story when it comes to intended versus actual purchases. For example, in managed chains 19% intend to buy milk but 18% are successful, while in forecourts 17% want to buy soft drinks but only 13% walk out with one. In milk alone there are one million lost purchases every month in managed chains. The key problem is out of stocks. Nearly half of shoppers say this is the reason for a failed purchase. Availability is crucial. For example, 15% of customers at BP/Safeway intended to buy sandwiches but only 8% did because there were not enough in the morning. Improving availability resulted in a 120% sales uplift.
When it comes to suppliers' service the news is not good. A year of consolidation has had little effect, with most scores remaining unchanged (see below). There has been a lot of noise but little follow-through.