The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) launched its annual Local Shop Report. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski looks at 10 key points from the research.
1. Retailers can be quick when they need (and want) to be
The report shows 80% of stores offer contactless card payment, this shows how flexible and agile the sector can be… So why do only 37% have overhead LED lighting? With pressure on margins and overheads growing, there is a lot of missed opportunities out there.
2. The industry has an exciting age profile
The report also notes that 28% of retailers have been in their business 25 years or more, and 27% are under 40. This mix of youth and experience is exciting, and as trends and demands evolve, retailers who work together should be able to benefit from these different perspectives.
3. Bad decisions in one store give the whole sector a bad name
About 41% of businesses who charge for bags do not give the proceeds to charity. Yes, take up in the initiative overall has been positive but most customers think the 'bag tax' goes to good causes and the idea shops are pocketing this small amount of money will bring to mind the bad old days of 'open all hours'.
4. Will the electric car be another missed opportunity?
Anywhere with a plug socket is valuable these days – including the café that's charging my phone as I write this. So could stores benefit from the rise of the electric car? The industry seems doubtful. "If everyone goes home and plugs in an electric car we will need four more nuclear plants," says Motor Fuel Group's boss Michael O'Loughlin.
5. Staff value your time and support
If the paperwork seems endless and you are not sure your employees are taking anything in when you run through your new EPoS machine, then fear not: More than three-quarters of store staff rate their on-the-job training.
6. You employ the breadwinners
The common conception of a shop worker as a secondary earner is wrong. The report shows 35% of staff members are the sole earner in their household.
7. Wales is the home of the multilingual retailer
In the UK, nearly 20% of store owners speak Punjabi, 10% speak Hindi and 9% speak Urdu. Impressive stuff, but in Wales, more than a quarter of store owners speak Welsh… Helo hyfryd!
8. Stores are extending their opening hours
James Lowman, ACS chief executive says he worried financial pressure might force stores to reduce hours. Instead, average store opening hours now stand at 7am-11pm, with 7% staying open 24 hours a day.
9. We'll soon be celebrating the big 40
Convenience sales will hit the £40.1bn mark by 2018's end and this is thanks to turnover growth of 2.9%. 38% of the sector is now made up by symbol groups – the biggest chunk. Rather soberingly, the average symbol store has an annual turnover of £962,357, more than unaffiliated independents (342,789) but less than half the average multiple c-stores 1,997596.
10. Context is everything
The report is full of great facts and figures and some will give many stores pause for thought. Despite all the negative discussion, tobacco and e-cigarettes still represent 20.4% and alcohol 14.9% of weekly sales. Fruit and veg is merely 4.3%, sandwiches are 2.8% and hot food-to-go makes up just 1.5% of average sales.