from Tom Fender, chief operating officer, HIM

Sir; I read your article regarding the differences in shopper attitudes and behaviours between urban small format stores and rural c- stores and how retailers and suppliers need to understand the differences (‘Country pursuits’, The Grocer, July 16, p51).
Bill O’Neill, acting CEO of One Stop, was spot on when he argued service is important wherever the store is. This is borne out by the fact that staff friendliness remains the most important thing to shoppers. It is mentioned by 45% of shoppers in both camps. Product availability is more important to neighbourhood store shoppers than to transient shoppers, as is the range of services. Trip spend is 5% higher in neighbourhood stores, but so unfortunately is the proportion of shoppers who reported failing to buy an intended item. No surprises, also, that regular needs are a more prominent driver in neighbourhood stores.
However, what may come as a surprise is that neighbourhood/ urban stores sell proportionately more confectionery, soft drinks, magazines and sweet snacks (grab and go lines) than transient stores. And they sell more core fresh and top up lines such as milk and chilled foods.
When you look at purchases and missions by time of day, shoppers in transient stores behave as if they are in neighbourhood stores during certain periods and vice versa. So yes: know your shopper.