According to the latest Nielsen data, convenience stores – classified as shops smaller than 3,000sq ft – have seen sales surge by 3.4% to £1.6 billion (MAT to February 2), compared with a 1.3% value growth in the overall off-trade to £5.3 billion.
The data was commissioned by Treasury Wine Estates, and its head of customer marketing, Shaun Heyes, said: “The convenience format is the fastest-growing part of the off- trade. It’s growing because of the way people shop. In this economic climate top-up shops are increasingly frequent.
“Rather than just doing one big shop at the start of the week, people do a smaller shop and top it up throughout the week.”
Nielsen figures show the average bottle price for wine in the convenience channel is £5.60, compared to the overall off-trade average price of £5.
Heyes said: “In convenience the shopper is not spending much time when they come in – it’s almost grab and go. You have to help them do that. You want to give them a nice range and the opportunity to spend a little bit of money.
“Convenience shoppers might spend a different amount on a bottle for themselves than if they are going round to a mate’s who is cooking.
“Our message to retailers in this ever-changing environment is: have a balanced range.”
He believes the middle ground will continue to be squeezed as sales of wines below £5 drop and sales above £6 continue to rise.
“People are buying on value or treating themselves – you see that with clothing and everything else as well as drinks,” he said.
“Retailers need to be cognisant of that – they need to have the right range to meet shoppers’ requirements. There’s a significant over-reliance on £5 and less. Don’t get rid of all of them, but you equally need to think about £6, £7, £8, £9.
“Look at the number of varieties you stock. Don’t just have 10 Chardonnays. Take some off and put in a Pinot Grigio and a Sauvignon Blanc.
“Is your fixture easy to look at, easy to navigate? Is price well-communicated?”
Heyes believes further growth in the convenience channel will come if retailers make the most of fridge space. “A high percentage of alcohol is drunk within a short time window, so a good chilled offering is important.”