10 June, 2020: For an industry known for its ability to adapt quickly, the way customer behaviours and preferences have shifted in the past two months, as the pandemic has played out and panic buying has subsided, has helped reveal the true value of convenience.
According to new research commissioned by the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) and undertaken by Convenience Measures Australia, the most compelling reasons people still choose to shop at convenience stores over alternatives is trust in the hygiene standards in store, and to avoid large crowds.
Customer preferences to shop at convenience stores on the basis that they are safer and less crowded has held true since the pandemic broke in March.
On the other hand, the new research shows initial spikes in demand for grocery items has levelled as more traditional convenience product categories return to the fore.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said the industry’s investment in new cleaning and hygiene regimes, for customers and staff to feel more at ease, has been well received.
“New AACS research on the way people shop during the pandemic, and how this has changed over the course of the past two months, vindicates the investment leading operators have made to ensure the environment they present is safe, clean and comfortable,” Mr Rogut said.
“Our research clearly shows that shoppers feel more comfortable in convenience stores and other small format stores than they do in supermarkets and large format stores, with safety being a key reason for this.
“In other areas, the ways that convenience operators have adapted will likely prove more temporary.
“For consumers who regularly visit convenience stores for top-up grocery items, demand for those items has remained steady during the pandemic. Convenience shoppers have bought more snacks, milk, bread, coffee and cleaning supplies, with sales to these customers increasing since March. Hot coffee has continued its amazing growth in convenience stores.
“However, for consumers who identify as supermarket shoppers, the increase in demand for grocery items has returned largely to pre-COVID levels.
“Research shows fuel has presented both an opportunity and a concern for convenience stores. Many customers have visited convenience stores to fill up and then have bought additional items to save time. Yet this destination impact is two-sided, as people have been travelling less and those fuel destination trips have become less frequent.
“Some stores which customised their range to meet specific lockdown requirements for their customers may revert to more traditional ordering patterns as restrictions ease. But the fact that most convenience stores have remained open and available to their communities since March is a testament to the offer and value they provide.
“The question for many stores, now that they have attracted new customers and provided additional services to their existing customers, is how do we ensure we keep them?”
The new research was presented via interactive webinar exclusively to AACS members on Wednesday 10 June. Undertaken by Convenience Measures Australia, the COVID-19 Impact Study Wave 2: How shoppers are using convenience stores in Australia research is available free to AACS members.
Chief Executive Officer
Australasian Association of Convenience Stores
Ph: +61 467 873 789