In the light of the Prime Minister’s statement of February 22, Dawood Pervez, Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale, commented on the situation facing the convenience sector.
“There are a number of key factors to take into account, not least the timing of how lockdown restrictions will be eased,” he said. “The next three to six months will be very important to independent retailers and we would look to reassure our customers that we are here to support them every step of the way:
“Firstly, whilst regulations are easing around lockdown, it is clearly going to be a gradual easement with some unknowns along the way. It is not looking likely that pubs will open before Easter, and when they do – it means that people will likely be sitting, or gathering outside, in order to remain distanced, which means by its very nature there will be limitations. Yes, people may be meeting in parks and outside which will help restore some life to our city and town centres which means more footfall, and more opportunity for retailers.
“With schools opening on March 8th, this will also mean increased ‘feet on the street’ in respect of impulse purchases (which have taken a big hit during the pandemic and throughout lockdown), with increased consumption of food to go, including fruit, snacks, soft drinks and confectionery. That has to be good for the independent retailer serving their local communities.
“The early indicators are that people will be steadily returning to the workplace – not everyone will continue to work from home. All the above reasons mean that for convenience retailers, there’s a lot to play for over the next three months. Don’t let’s forget we are then into the Euros (football) where there is likely to be increased levels of home viewing which means an increase in ‘take home packs’ and we anticipate that consumers will want to collect premium beers, wine and ciders from their local stores. For many consumers, there will inevitably be an abundance of caution in how they re-engage socially and professionally meaning their community stores will remain a real lifeline.”
Pervez concluded that the outlook for the sector remains good:
“We know from research undertaken by both the ACS Retailer Road Map and TWC’s Future of Convenience that around 47 per cent of consumers are saying that they intend to continue to use their local convenience store post lockdown and remain loyal,” he said, continuing.
Last week’s completed acquisition of Costcutter (CSG) takes Bestway Wholesale’s estate to more than 3,795 stores in the UK, (including 2,682 fascia and 195 company owned).