Lockdown once again leads to increase in visit frequency, basket size and spend at c-stores


The lockdown announced in January has led to an increase in shopper visit frequency, basket spend and basket size in the convenience channel, new data from Lumina Intelligence showed.

According to the Convenience Tracking Programme of the market researcher, the average basket size in convenience was 5.3 items – up 6 per cent, the average visit frequency was 2.8 times– up 4 per cent and the average value of a convenience shopper was £66.73 – up 10 per cent in the four weeks ending 7 February, when compared to the previous four weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on 4 January to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatened to overwhelm parts of the health system.

“As we have seen throughout the three lockdown periods, shoppers are turning to their local convenience stores and, in some cases, avoiding larger, busier stores,” commented Blonnie Whist, head of insight at Lumina Intelligence. “This has resulted in higher visit frequency, greater spend and bigger baskets.”

Planned top-up has remained the number one mission driving shoppers to convenience stores, accounting for a third of all visits in the four week period. Compared to the previous period, meal occasions has overtaken newsagent as the second biggest mission, accounting for over 14 per cent of trips.

“The restrictions placed on hospitality have boosted in-home consumption, so retailers need to think smart about how they can inspire shoppers, with opportunities for meal deals that increase spend and purchases,” Whist added.

The proportion of convenience store baskets that include price marked packs has also grown by one percentage point. Overall, half of convenience baskets include price marked packs.

Soft drinks have moved from the fifth most purchased category for PMPs to third, highlighting the success of PMP price cut initiatives, such as Coca Cola’s, which tap into consumer demand for value, the market researcher noted.

The top three categories for PMPs are chilled foods, excluding milk (13%), bakery (wrapped) (9.9%) and soft drinks (5.9%).

“Convenience stores are perfectly placed to cater for local communities during lockdown periods. Retailers must use this as an opportunity to drive loyalty in order to retain customers once restrictions ease,” Whist said.