It is not a great time for small independent food stores. They are an endangered species, threatened by the fiercely competitive superstore giants that are battling for the loyalty of Britain’s food shoppers.
Local butchers, bakers and greengrocers are finding it increasingly difficult to survive as their mammoth counterparts increase stock levels and squeeze prices in an attempt to provide the perfect ‘everything-under-one-roof’ shopping experience.
However, all is not lost for the local storeowner. Reclaiming much of the territory lost by local specialised food retailers is a more hybrid breed, a store that relies as much on where it is than on what it stocks – the convenience store.
At a time of economic uncertainty, the market in these local retailers seems remarkably solid. According to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), tens of millions of customers visit convenience stores every day. So if you’re looking to buy a business, this could be an attractive option.
Mike Carr, group managing director of EM&F believes convenience stores are a good business to buy in these uncertain times: “Due to a degree of uncertainty in the general economic climate, people are buying businesses that are more likely to continue to grow. Convenience stores fit this bill because everyone needs food.”
What it does
Convenience stores are, in essence, local grocery stores. They stock a wide range of food and household products and, depending on the store, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and newspapers.
They are there to serve a need, providing a practical alternative to the out-of-town superstores. Rarely do they attract customers shopping for the week. Instead, they draw their custom from impulse or emergency purchases, from people topping-up their cupboards or from those simply getting the daily essentials like milk and bread.
With the demise of the local specialist store, convenience stores have also become centres of the community in more isolated locations. Thousands of members of the ACS operate Post Offices, and many provide services such as photocopying, faxing and even cash withdrawal.
** Image courtesy of k-ideas on Flickr