The convenience market’s turnover is forecasted to grow by 3.5% in 2019 to £41.7bn, according to findings from insight company HIM’s Convenience Tracking Programme 2019.
Speaking at the annual HIM Convenience Conference at The British Library in London, insight director Gareth Nash revealed the findings of the research. “If the convenience sector keeps evolving then growth will keep accelerating,” he explained. “There is also a big opportunity in quality and fresh food, but competition is rising. More engagement is also needed with the young.”
One sector that is undoubtedly primed to aid this further growth is the vape category, according to John Patterson, sales director of Juul Lab. “Vaping is the biggest public health and commercial opportunity of the last 50 years for convenience stores.”
He went onto explain that the UK vape category is forecasted to more than double over the next 4 years, with tobacco in a significant decline in adult smokers since 2011. “Independents and symbol retailers account for 45% of tobacco purchases but less than 10% of overall vape sales, so the opportunity for the channel is huge and we estimate it could be worth an incremental £750m a year by 2020 if convenience gets its fair share.”
Meanwhile, Nestlé wholesale director for the UK & Ireland, Dave Nicholls, spoke about unlocking future growth through the coffee category. “The market is being redefined, forcing retailers, wholesalers and manufacturer to adapt.”
“Understanding and ranging for younger customers is key to growth, with super premium and RTD chilled coffee the key products that need to be focused on,” said Nicholls, explaining that the latter has grown by by 32% in the past year and is now worth £98m.
Harriet Williams, senior clients services manager of MCA Insight, also described how the lines between foodservice and retail are blurring, with food to go is at the forefront of this. “Food to go now has a 43.9% share in overall eating out occasions and is one of the biggest opportunities for convenience, especially to drive younger customers.”