Soft drinks sales in the convenience and impulse channel reached £2.2 billion in 2018, growing at over 8 percent year on year, shows the latest Soft Drinks Review by Britvic.

“Set against the extraordinary events of 2018, the sterling performance by the soft drinks category clearly demonstrates the opportunity that convenience retailers can unlock,” said Rachel Phillips, Out Of Home Commercial Director at the soft drinks producer.

2018 has been an unprecedented year for the soft drinks category with a number of impactful events to navigate, from the introduction of the sugar tax to extreme weather – both cold and hot – and a CO2 shortage.

“The levy has left an indelible imprint on the soft drinks category,” said Phillips. “The cola category has seen a significant volume shift from regular to low and no sugar options and products such as Pepsi Max have now gained significant share from full sugar products.

The Review identifies a £100 million sales opportunity for convenience and impulse retailers this year.

“This translates into a chance for each and every single retailer to put almost £2,200 in their tills by maximising the sales potential of the soft drinks category,”  added Phillips.

Britvic said it will be sharing an action plan with retailers to realise the potential to generate additional profit.

“Our simple statement is that, if you have an hour a week spare in your store, spend it on soft drinks. The time investment will translate into a revenue generating opportunity,” continued Phillips.

Within the forecourt channel, ‘top up shop’ continued to be the number one reason why people visited forecourts in 2018, followed very closely by ‘food to go’, finds the Review.

Stimulants is the number one segment in forecourts (+27% versus +20% in convenience), highlighting the different needs that shoppers have in different channels. Cola, stimulants and plain water accounted for 88% of growth in forecourts.