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Our colleagues at AS Analytics have been busy analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the Convenience channel. If you operate in the Convenience sector it may interest you to read on and consider whether your callage strategy has changed since COVID.

The convenience sector has responded to the demands of COVID and is realising growth as a result. This year the UK convenience channel is set to grow by 8% compared to last year, with a turnover of £45 billion. One of the growth drivers is the number of retailers offering new services, such as home delivery which has increased from 12% in 2019 to a massive 57% this year. Over 600,000 deliveries are now being made each week.

However, the experience of the channel has been mixed; two thirds of retailers have seen sales increases in the last two months, whilst one third have seen a fall in sales and, in some cases, this has been significant. This decline is largely due to location and it is polarising; as businesses slowly re-open post lockdown, those located in transport hubs, forecourts and urban stores – which account for 37% of the total channel – are the hardest hit as footfall remains depleted. Meanwhile the rural and neighbourhood retailers have seen their sales increase significantly as shoppers remain close to home, even after lockdown.

Advantage Smollan group insight shows that UK callage before COVID-19 heavily favoured urban retailers, with 90% of call files typically focused on urban locations. Historically urban retailers were more receptive to brand strategies with 1 in 2 urban, compared to 1 in 3 rural retailers taking new product. However availability has been hardest hit in rural symbol & retail buying group stores with a 12% decline year on year. In addition, analysis of Advantage Smollan sales trends show that only 60% of the best-selling lines from before COVID-19 remain in store today.

A shift in sales performance, service renovation, range rationalisation, and availability shifts all mean that it is critical to review callage strategies regularly to ensure optimal brand execution, to support urban retailers and to accelerate performance in thriving rural retailers.

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