||Competition Mounting for Convenience Shoppers' Attention
Grocery, Other Retail Outlets Increasingly Appealing to On-the-Go Consumers
Convenience stores -- which have traditionally served all the needs of consumers looking for a convenient location, a quick grab-and-go purchase and long hours of operation -- are finding themselves being upstaged increasingly by other retail outlets that are filling those needs and other consumer preferences, according to research by The NPD Group.
NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 U.S. c-store shoppers, found that for the quarter ending December 2011, nontraditional retail outlets, like grocery/mass market retailers, dollar stores and drug stores, represented 9.3% of c-store traffic, a 2% increase from the same quarter in 2010. C-store traffic overall was down 2% for the quarter from same quarter last year.
The reasons that consumers choose to shop at a c-store -- location, speed and hours -- are generally now the same as their reasons for shopping at nontraditional c-store outlets; 79% of consumers who visit a c-store did so because of its convenient location, and it was the location of a nontraditional store that led 67% of consumers to choose it, according to the Convenience Store Monitor.
The ability to get in-and-out of the store quickly factored into the decision of 44% of consumers to shop at a c-store, and for the same reason 40% of consumers visited a nontraditional retail outlet.
Longer hours of operation, once the unique selling proposition of c-stores, is the reason that 21% of consumers shopped at a c-store; but with more retail outlets offering longer hours of operation, particularly mass market grocers and drug stores, 24% of consumers report it as a reason they shopped at nontraditional c-stores.
With needs for convenience being met by traditional and nontraditional outlets, nontraditional outlets also win convenience consumers' visits on price, selection, quality and value, attributes that may not typically be associated with c-stores.
"There is no doubt that convenience stores are facing stiff competition from nontraditional retail outlets," said David Portalatin, c-store channel analyst for NPD. "Convenience stores need to glean as much insight as they can from the preferences that consumers are exhibiting. When they do that, they can differentiate themselves from the competition by providing offerings most relevant to their consumers."
(Source: CSP Daily News, 02/02/12)