Innovation, value for money and tapping in to shopper missions will help retailers take advantage of the huge growth opportunity for convenience stores.

Speakers at the IGD’s annual Convenience Retailing conference said there was a significant opportunity for growth in the channel and urged suppliers and retailers to work together to achieve it.

Vital statistics from the IGD
  • The convenience sector is estimated to grow by 11.6% by 2019.
  • Convenience is the second-largest grocery channel and by 2019 it is forecast to account for 24% of food and grocery sales.
  • Together, convenience, discount and online retailing are expected to grow by more than £31bn during the next five years, and claim 43% of the market.

Rav Garcha, owner of Spend n Save in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said innovation wasn’t just about having new products. “Retailers need to be innovative in how we get customers through the door,” he said. “We need to make our store a destination.”

His view was backed by Debbie Robinson, managing director of Spar, who stressed the importance of a great first impression in convenience stores. “Each time customers come in they need to see something fresh and exciting,” she said.

Meanwhile, Michael Freedman, shopper insight manager at IGD, urged the convenience sector to be wary of the rapid rise of discount chains, such as Aldi and Lidl.

“Discounters are shaking the food industry to the core,” he said. “And they are encroaching on convenience.”

The multiple’s convenience offers were flagged as another big threat. “Symbols are still the dominant force of convenience in this country but the growth is slowing and the multiples are still growing,” said IGD chief economist James Walton.