Convenience stores have a second lockdown opportunity to capitalise on high demand, as supermarkets struggle to meet demand for home deliveries over the seasonal period.

Last week, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a new four-week lockdown for England, starting on 5 November and ending on 2 December.

Grocery analyst Bryan Roberts told betterRetailing supermarkets were experiencing an immediate demand for goods ahead of Christmas.

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“We have seen a return to some of the previous behaviour we witnessed during the first lockdown,” he said.

“There is some element of panic buying, with queues forming outside of some supermarkets.”

Tesco has limited online ordering slots to a maximum of three weeks and research by betterRetailing showed in 10 regions across England, 70% had a waiting time of at least two weeks, and one had no availability at all.

Roberts advised preparing Christmas rangings early and stocking wider and affordable Christmas meal lines to allow indies to again pick up market share from the supermarkets this lockdown.

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“There has been a real focus on the family-of-four dining occasion this year rather than massive feasts,” he said. “If independents work on their ranging early, matched with a good price point, they will be able to benefit from a similar trend.”

This is supported by Co-op’s advice to Nisa stores: “Being able to offer pack sizes that suit smaller get-togethers will help win shoppers.”

Its core recommended Christmas meal lines included goose fat, bacon, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, chipolata sausages, mince pies, custard, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

While wastage can be a traditional barrier to independents angling for a bigger share of the Christmas shop, pre-orders in store have previously been successful in both locking in Christmas day spending early and helping shops to forecast better.

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“We sell turkeys from a local butcher, which we ask people to pre-order, and then we do promotions tying other products into that, such as crisps, snacks and dinner items such as apple brandy sauce,” advised Ranjit Singh, of Parans Minimarket in Leeds.

To capitalise on the high-street shutdown, stores are also investing in gift categories.

Dee Sedani, owner of One Stop Etwall in Derbyshire, started selling Yankee Candles earlier this month. “I thought, ‘Why not bring products from the high street into my store?’” he said. “They are flying off the shelves.”

Cardiff retailer Mark Dudden said greeting card sales “rocketed” in his store under the ongoing Welsh lockdown. “There was a surge of people unsure when they would be allowed to buy again, so there was a bit of panic buying on Christmas cards,” he said.

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