The upcoming ‘summer of socialising’ is tipped to create “huge” opportunities for convenience stores, according to Katie Jenkins, marketing director for convenience and hospitality research company KAM Media.
She told Better Retailing that delays and uncertainty around the final stage of exiting lockdown in England will drive last-minute buying for summer events when Boris Johnson’s much-touted ‘Freedom Day’ does arrive.
New data from KAM Media shows how consumers are far less nervous about returning to normal when compared to last year, with 60% confirming they plan on visiting a hospitality venue.
However, Jenkins told Better Retailing a third of the population still intends to socialise in their home following investments made during lockdown.
“The big statistic retailers need to take notice of is that 68% of consumers expect to entertain 10 or more people in their home if allowed,” she said. “This means they’ll be looking to host proper events and stores need to make sure they are stocking products to cater for an even bigger night in.”
As well as this, 39% of people said they will have friends over for a barbecue this summer, with 41% already planning picnics with friends and family.
“These figures have huge implications for convenience,” said Jenkins. “Retailers must priortise catering to these needs by stocking more sharing bags of crisps, snack ranges and bigger food-to-go platters.”
The summer of sport is expected to drive further sales. Jenkins said nearly half the population intends to watch the Euro 2020 football tournament at home, with two-thirds tuning into the Olympics from their sofas.
“Although these events aren’t new, they’ve all come at once after being pushed back because of the pandemic,” she said. “Everyone wants something to be excited for after the past year and this is doing just that.”
She added: “With a massive proportion of people celebrating at home, stores need to do everything they can to hook viewers in, whether that’s by running beer promotions or creating an in-store experience.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, supermarkets struggled to meet demand for home deliveries, meaning customers turned to their independent store for the first time.
“Purchasing habits were shaken up over the past year,” said Jenkins. “Retailers can’t start neglecting changing customer habits.”
Due to savings made, people were more inclined to spend money on premium ranges. “A lot of retailers trialled new brands and now is the time to cement this as part of their routine,” said Jenkins.
“I’d urge all stores to review their brands right now, especially in their alcohol ranges,” she added. “If they don’t, then they are likely to fall behind in the coming months.”
Despite some trends seen during the past year set to remain, the number of people continuing to work from home isn’t expected to be as high as previously thought.
A recent report anticipated a five-day office week could become the norm again within two years. Jenkins stressed now is the time for stores to create a desirable, affordable lunch option.
“Remote flexible working is likely to remain in some capacity,” she said. “There’s a chance for neighbourhood stores to capitalise on this and create a lunch option that works for their customers.
“Something worth thinking about for stores who have space for seating is to offer a subscription offer, allowing customers to eat and work for a combined price.”