Here's an alternative way of looking at the relative category values to off-licences - not sales contribution and gross margin levels, but how important each category shopper is.
Firstly, footfall. Which categories drive footfall? To find out, you need to speak to customers face to face - which is what Soltrack does each year.
Have a look at how frequently different category shoppers visit their off-licence.
The cigarette shopper visits their off-licence more frequently than any other mainstream category shopper at three times a week on average . This suggests that off-licences are far more than sources for "distress" shoppers and actually attract regular cigarette purchasers.
This research was conducted just before the smoking ban came into force in England and Wales this year, so off-licences stand to benefit even further from smokers who now "go out by staying in".
It's been said many times before, but retailers need to ensure they stay in stock 24/7 with key footfall lines such as cigarettes, particularly when we can show the typical cross-purchases bought with cigarettes are beer, spirits, soft drinks and confectionery.
Interesting to see that confectionery is the second footfall-driving category. And other impulse lines (soft drinks and crisps and snacks) are also key footfall drivers. Should off-licences market themselves as credible snacking and indulgence stores?
The red wine shopper only visits their off-licence 1.3 times per week on average. I wonder if more red wine is bought on "three for" deals, thereby reducing the frequency of shopping trips to off-licences? It w ould explain why the cigarette shopper visits three times a week when most purchases are single unit rather than multi-buys.
Surprise, surprise - the red wine shopper spends more per trip (total basket) than all other category shoppers.
And again, no surprise, but the spend by impulse category shoppers (total basket) is lower.
So what happens when you multiply together weekly visit frequency and total basket trip spend? You get weekly basket spend by category shopper.
Across the whole week, an off-licence will get just over £32 from a spirits shopper, whose typical cross-purchases are cigarettes and soft drinks/mixers. This is significantly more than all other category shoppers.
However, you then need to factor in the rate of sale for each category - an off-licence will sell quite a lot of beer at £27 per week total basket.
The implications are that suppliers need to look beyond their own category - appreciating the inter-relationship their category has with other categories. Poor availability in one category can directly lead to lost sales in another as a shopper won't want to queue twice in two different stores.
Suppliers should appreciate that some categories drive footfall more than others. They are not always the obvious ones. Look at total basket spend rather than simply sales contribution. It's shoppers who buy things, so understand total basket spend and purchases.
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