Forecourts ‘set to outperform convenience’

Prestwick Londis

Forecourt convenience will outperform the total convenience retail market in 2020, according to the HIM & MCA Insight UK Forecourt Market Report 2020.

Sales within forecourt convenience stores are set to grow by 3.8% to £2.9bn in 2020, says the report. This represents both an outperformance vs. total forecourt retail sales, which are set to grow 1.2% in 2020, as well as being ahead of the 3.2% growth forecast for the overall convenience retail market.

The report highlights that retail sales from forecourt shops (excluding fuel) are set to reach £4.6bn in 2020 and forecourt convenience stores are set to make up over three-fifths of this.

Despite a modest overall decline in forecourt outlets (-0.2% vs. 2019), the number of forecourt outlets with a convenience store is forecast to grow by +1.5% in 2020, with multiples and symbol groups taking on an increasing number of c-stores on forecourts.

The evolution of shopper behaviour has forced forecourt retailers and operators to invest in their stores in order to make their sites a destination for shoppers and not just a petrol station. Only 19% of forecourt shoppers cite fuel as their main reason for visiting and nearly a quarter (24%) of shoppers who visit a forecourt convenience store travel on foot rather than in a vehicle.

Around 67% of forecourt dealers have listed increased food-to-go sales as one of the top three changes they had experienced in their business in the last 12 months.

Polled before the coronavirus wreaked havoc, forecourt dealers highlighted uncertainty about the future of alternative fuels; rising staff costs; and staff retention as the three biggest challenges that their businesses are currently facing.