When lockdown was announced in March 2020, Brits went wild in the aisles. In scenes akin to Supermarket Sweep, toilet rolls, pasta and tinned foods flew from the shelves as the nation went into blind panic to stockpile at home.

While we might have been struggling to find flour, sugar and baking powder in the supermarkets, because we’re now a nation of banana bread lovers, it’s been the local gems that have served us well.

According to Reuters, Grocery sales in Britain surged 18.9% in the four weeks to June 14, driven by the popularity of online and convenience stores during the coronavirus lockdown. Kantar data shows that online sales rose 91% year-on-year over in the same period, highlighting the changes in consumer behaviour as we all scrabble to find an online delivery or click and collect slot from the supermarket. Consumer confidence is on the up, but we’re still making 77 million fewer trips to the shops, which is expected to change as government restrictions ease.

But the real news here, is the success of convenience stores, leading the charge, and accounting for 14.7% of all sales. These stores were quick to react to the Covid-19 panic buying.

According to Coca-Cola European Partners, almost half of us have been shopping at local, independent stores more regularly, partly to avoid crowds and queues but also because consumers are keen to support local businesses. And better still, the average spend per visit is up. There’s been a real demand for products that just can’t be found in larger grocers, but also for larger sharing products, and multipacks. While money is being saved on the commute and daily coffee trips, there’s more money to spend on snacks and little pick me ups to make staying at home a little easier.

Butchers, bakers, and greengrocers were all quick to the rescue, adapting their businesses to accommodate for new demand, and for some, where stock was going to waste as not required in foodservice. With many now profiting from the new revenue stream, and aiming to keep local deliveries in place.

And it’s not just physical stores, with consumers stalking grocery online slots and fearful of overcrowded shops, takeaway apps Deliveroo and Uber Eats have also joined forces with local grocery stores to expand the offering. While there’s a premium to be paid, you can have a loaf of bread, BBQ pack, or bottle of wine delivered, contact-free, to the door in under 30 minutes. Now that’s service!

Going forward there’s a real opportunity for local businesses and convenience stores to play a bigger role in the way we shop. We sure won’t forget the time we finally found self-raising flour at the post office, or the vegetable box and loaf of bread delivered to the doorstep when the thought of leaving the house was too overwhelming. The loyalty built in lockdown is sure to pay off with additional footfall in the future.

Sources: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-grocers-kantar/uk-grocery-sales-growth-driven-by-online-and-convenience-in-lockdown-idUKKBN23U0UP?il=0; https://www.conveniencestore.co.uk/promotional-features/how-coronavirus-has-changed-convenience-shopper-behaviour-/604947.article; https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/11292323/groceries-delivered-deliveroo-uber-eats/

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