The increasingly hectic lifestyle of today's consumer is having a big effect on the way grocery shopping across Europe is conducted, according to Datamonitor's new report, 'Convenience Consumers'.
The report shows that consumers today make less accurate assessments of what they need for the following week when they make their regular shopping lists, due to constantly changing diaries. And it's not just the urban cash-rich time-poor consumers who are affected by this trend: the phenomenon affects all social classes. For this reason, Datamonitor suggests that convenience retailers must reassess their store formats and product mix while also realising that they cannot assume that their customer base is made up of only better-off consumers.
More convenience shopping
Consumers are making grocery purchases for immediate, or at least very short-term, consumption. A major reason for this change is that people's schedules and diaries are changing at only a few days notice, and often less. This often means that there is too much, too little, or the wrong sort of food and drink in the fridge. Either way the convenience channel is set to benefit as consumers visit their stores more frequently to make "top-up" purchases.
It will be convenience stores (c-stores) that will benefit the most from these trends, with consumers' visits to c-stores increasing from 18.9 billion in 2001 to 20.4 billion in 2006. The extra visits will also benefit sales as those stores will see their share of the total European food and drink market increase from 12.5% in 2001 to 13.3% in 2006 (equivalent to an extra Euro 16.2 billion in sales).
The pattern is not uniform across the different countries in Europe however as the nature and structure of local retailing patterns will have a profound effect. For example, in France, where the hypermarket format is very strong, the rise in c-store visits will not actually lead to an overall increase in convenience stores' share of the food and drinks market. Although French consumers will visit convenience stores more often, they will tend to purchase fewer items and spend less each time.
In Italy, where small local convenience stores are a major grocery channel, consumers will increase their already high number of convenience store visits, which will see these stores' share of the food and drinks market increase from 19% in 2001 to 20.5% in 2006.
The following table shows convenience store sales and visits for 2001 and 2006. Sales are expressed as a percentage of total food and drinks sales, and visits are expressed in billions per annum: