Significant growth opportunities lie ahead for convenience stores, which are now visited on average 12 times a month – more often than any other type of grocery format.

These are the findings from a study by IGD, the research and training charity for the food and consumer goods industry.

Its ShopperVista research found that half of shoppers now believe that it’s more convenient to shop around rather than buy everything under one roof, with the average shopper making 24 grocery trips a month through four different channels. Today’s shoppers have three main priorities:

  • To save money on food and groceries (64%)
  • To reduce food waste (47%)
  • To stick to a budget (47%)

Convenience is already the second-largest grocery channel and by 2019, IGD forecasts it will account for nearly a quarter (24%) of food and grocery sales. Together, convenience, discount and online retailing are expected to grow by more than £31bn over the next five years and claim 43% of the market.

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said: “Shoppers now expect grocery retailing to organise itself around their lives, rather than building their routines around store opening hours. We now see shoppers finding it more convenient to use a number of different channels to meet their needs despite the extra travel and checkout time required.

“Convenience isn’t always about time – it’s also about effort. Shoppers often want to plan their meals just a few days ahead, or even on the day itself. They also find it convenient just to spend 10 minutes shopping on their way home from work, even if that means they are shopping more frequently.

“The fundamental shifts in shopper behaviour we have seen in recent years indicate that whether you’re a retailer or a supplier, there is a huge opportunity in the convenience channel.”

The research unveiled some key improvements that convenience shoppers would like to see on pricing and promotions:

  • 42% said they favour price reductions over multi-buys in the channel
  • 41% would like to see convenience stores provide more round pound deals and pound zones
  • 37% want it to be easier to compare offers with the original price

Denney-Finch added: “To help make the most of the growth opportunities ahead, retailers and suppliers in the channel should balance shoppers’ requests on pricing with promotions to offer more clarity and transparency. It is those convenience operators who stay closest to shoppers’ changing needs that will be best equipped to drive the channel’s opportunity for growth.”