Top-up bonanza

UK c- stores are gaining from changes that have led to a boom in top-up shopping, says research giant Mintel.

New research from the company reveals that over 45% of Britons say they regularly visit convenience stores to do a top-up shop. Of those who do visit convenience stores 59% visit twice a week or more, with 12% shopping four to six times a week, and 5% saying they do so daily.

The growth in the convenience sector has been driven by a shift in grocery habits from consumers who are looking to cut down on the time spent grocery shopping. Mintel research indicates that it is the flexibility of convenience stores that is vital, as 75% of Brits say the opening times of convenience stores make it easier to fit shopping into their daily schedule and 49% say that shopping at convenience stores allows them to be more flexible with their meal choices.

Regular convenience store shoppers are particularly keen on buying fresh foods, market research firm Mintel found.

Mintel suggests convenience stores are benefiting from growth in other grocery channels, notably online and discount shopping.

While 22% of British shoppers say they regularly do their main shop in a discount supermarket, nearly half of that group say they regularly top up their shopping in convenience stores.

And of the 24% of Britons who regularly do their main shop online, 56% say they regularly visit convenience stores for top-up shopping.

Nick Carroll, retail analyst at Mintel, said: “The increasingly busy nature of modern life means that across categories consumers are looking to cut back on the time that it takes to do certain activities.

“Grocery retailing is no different, and the convenience sector is perhaps the best suited to take advantage of this. As a result, the market is flourishing.”

Mintel’s latest Convenience Stores – UK report said the convenience sector grew by an estimated 1.8% in 2015 to have sales worth £38.7bn.

While that represented a slowdown of the 2.8% growth seen in 2014, it was still higher than the wider grocery sector which it estimated had seen a 0.2% fall in sales in 2015. The researcher reckons the convenience retailing market will grow 13% over the next five years to reach £43.8bn in 2020.

Fresh goods are frequent purchases. Of those who regularly shop in convenience stores, over half (57%) say they regularly buy freshly baked goods and 55% say they regularly buy fresh food.

Some 57% have used an ATM in the shop over the past six months, whilst almost 32% of those shoppers have used a Post Office and 21% click-and-collect services.