Retail Trends: is your store the hub of your community?

by 23 June 2017

Retail Trends: is your store the hub of your community? by Ellie Prior

As leisure time becomes increasingly limited, consumers making a trip to a retail environment seek more than just fulfilling their shopping mission, placing more and more importance on the accompanying social experience. Shopping centres have been meeting this demand for decades, providing shoppers with a social setting alongside the retail space via the addition of restaurants, cafes and everyday services, transforming them into ‘destinations’.

With the gradual decline of community centres, convenience stores are increasingly seen as a social hub, acting as a meeting point for residents in the local area, and providing essential services to the community. Convenience retailers can use this position to increase loyalty, customer satisfaction, and in-store sales.

An effective method to encourage social consumers is the creation of a customer seating area, either accompanied by an in-store food offering such as a deli counter or café, or simply acting as somewhere for customers to consume their purchases. HIM research found that consumers who are given a seat spend up to 40% more on their visit, making it a worthwhile investment. However, very few convenience retailers are exploiting this opportunity with only 4% of convenience stores currently featuring a customer seating area.

Convenience retailers can implement seating on a small scale, with the addition of a small in-store seating area, or on a larger scale by completing partial or complete redevelopments of their sites, increasing the size of the space to include food outlets such as restaurants or cafés. Euro Garages is a prime example of a group who have transformed their retail spaces into social destinations via the addition of food retailers such as Burger King, Starbucks and Greggs.

Premier Whitstone Village Store, recently featured in Convenience Store magazine, has also exploited this social demand, with the addition of a café and lounge bar with an alcohol license which allows the bar to be open beyond shop hours, attracting a supplementary customer base.

In addition to providing a social space, convenience retailers can use their position to engage with their local communities. Josh Clifton at HIM said: ‘customers spend 50p extra per trip in stores that they feel are community stores and they will come three times a week if they are loyal compared to not loyal, so it gives convenience stores a real edge.’ Convenience retailers can engage with communities in various capacities whether it’s simply adding a local notice board in-store, charity fundraising or holding events for the local community.

As an example, Gravelle’s Budgens launched a community program in their local area in 2013. Since then Gravelle’s have created a local school initiative, been actively involved with local charities, and sponsored a community bus service with River Hospital in Sawbridgeworth, providing a vital transport service to the community.

Creating social spaces and engaging with communities is not only valuable for the local area but is also a beneficial investment for retailers, creating higher footfall, loyalty and additional revenue streams.

For more information on how TLM can help your business grow, just get in touch!

Author: Ellie Prior, Marketing Intern, TLM Technologies

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