The Evolution of Convenience Retail

In 2017, Nielsen put the South African convenience retail sector at R35 billion, commanding ten percent of total market retail spend, and pointed out the growth opportunity for forecourt retailers. Other reports have also signalled expansion of this segment as lifestyles changed, busy consumers looked to shop closer to work or home, and demand for convenience shopping continued to grow. Forecourts have evolved from mere fuel-sellers into sophisticated micro-retailers. Covid has impacted this as people stopped commuting in 2020, and limited their shopping repertoire to “here and near”. Consumption moments have changed. Less travelling in general and at home more has meant an uptick in Night in and Weekend essentials items. Convenience growth stores have flipped and store importance changed, as habits have shifted. Coffee and ready-made food remain key competitive advantages. While catchment areas for forecourts have shrunk, they remain a key channel of untapped opportunity. Here are five global trends impacting the evolution of this channel:

  • Tech enabling convenience. Anything ensuring efficient service – integrating digital elements, from in-store screens to on-demand fulfilment platforms and supply chain integration.
  • Going beyond C-retailing. Think experiential retail, C-stores are partnering with specialists like butchers, florists or foodservice operators to create more exciting propositions and eco-systems to attract custom.
  • Redefining product ranges. Habits are changing, categories like fresh food, food-to-go and evening meal solutions are reshaping convenience Retailers are giving shoppers new reasons to visit their stores.
  • Stronger health focus. Health and wellbeing becoming more important to shoppers across all channels. C-operators are expanding fresh food ranges and healthy options – without sacrificing speed.
  • Better Minimart & local stores. Minimarts are developing around fuel stations and building strong community connections, building goodwill and loyalty. Getting involved and supporting more local suppliers in the community.

What’s the future? We’ve gone from garage shops to forecourts, to convenience retailing and are now moving toward multi-use shopping eco-systems that are often at the hub of a community. Where once fuel comprised 90% of the revenue stream, food, essentials and adjacent services are claiming far more and more spend – which will continue to rise. Talk to us about ensuring your brand are represented and being well serviced in this fast-evolving channel-of-the-future.