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Convenience store format set to dominate retail trade
Convenience store format set to dominate retail trade

Convenience store format set to dominate retail trade


Sep 7th 2011, 12:52

In recent years changing consumer lifestyles have led to the emergence of convenience stores as a shopping destination. With convenience stores open for longer hours, South Africans have found the forecourt retailer concept to be a safe and time-saving shopping experience. 

According to a 2010 Retail Food Sector Report compiled by GAIN (Global Agricultural Information Network), convenience shopping, exemplified by C-stores like Freshstop at Caltex, is a growing trend among middle- to high-income consumers.

This trend is most notably successful in the UK where the concept is referred to as the 'forecourt convenience format'. Says Joe Boyle, Freshstop Director: "Freshstop has taken a cue from companies like Marks and Spencer Simply Food, Sainsbury's Local, Tesco Express and Somerfield Essentials, which all compete in the tough UK retail space."

"Locally Fruit and Veg City's convenience store offering Freshstop, located on the forecourts of Caltex fuel outlets, is seeing a growing demand for one-stop fuel and food purchases." Based on this demand and its fresh and modern convenience offer, Freshstop has embarked on a focused campaign to encourage existing Caltex Star Marts to convert to the Freshstop C-store model.

"Sales in new stores have shown a growth rate after conversion of up to 60%, with the average being 25%. Stores that have been trading for longer than a year have also shown good like-for-like increase, despite the tough economic climate", says Boyle.

Freshstop stores feature a variety of innovative departments and products that focus on the increasing time-conscious demands of consumers. The focus is on fresh produce and food-to-go categories, which have grown from 10% of sales to more than 30%.

What makes the convenience store model attractive to consumers is their 24-hour accessibility and a wide variety of ready-to-go products in a friendly retail space. "Products are offered loose, pre-packed or prepared for extra convenience. The food-to-go station includes over 50 products and we have taken care to form partnerships with suppliers on a regional level to ensure daily, fresh deliveries".

The food range includes savouries, freshly-made sandwiches, confectionery items and smoothies. Freshstop also produces pizzas and paninis on-site, made to order.

According to The Retailer Magazine, the non-foods category is growing steadily with novelty items and events-driven merchandise added to the range. One example included the vuvuzela, the non-official 'trumpet' of the 2010 World cup.

"We have seen a 20% growth in customers in stores that have been converted from Star Mart to Freshstop and, as conversion takes approximately two weeks only, we're confident that we're offering prospective franchisees a great turnkey solution", concludes Boyle.


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