Small supermarkets are improving their service to consumers leading to steady growth in terms of value, store numbers and shopper satisfaction, according to new research from shopper insight specialist Him.

The small supermarket sector now accounts for 22% of UK food and grocery spend, with a total value in line with the convenience sector (21%), and a growth forecast of 12% in the next five years.

Him says the small supermarkets of which there are now 7,300 attract predominantly female shoppers and the biggest shopping mission is ’top up’, featuring six to seven items.

They are 3,000-25,000sq ft and are often located on a high street. Shoppers use them for big top-up shops or small regular shops.

They are bigger than convenience stores (under 3,000 sq ft) and attract a bigger basket size, but they are smaller than superstores (25,000+ sq ft).

The research revealed that failed purchases are still costing the industry dearly estimated at £295,000 per store, per year. Eight per cent of shoppers failed to purchase something they had intended to buy something that epos and loyalty card data can never show. Fruit and vegetable sales suffered the most. However, unplanned purchasing is at a three-year high (24% versus 18% in 2009).