Local boost for convenience stores

Despite the recession, convenience stores are booming on the sales front. Spar's members drove up like-for-like sales 5.2% in the three months to end of July.

The convenience stores achieved well above average growth compared to the grocery market as a whole. This is thanks to people staying at home more and deciding to pop out to buy a ready meal or bottle of wine from their nearest convenience store. Total sales for the Spar group rose 8.1% in the latest quarter, well ahead of the 6% growth in the previous three months.

Booker joined in with a 7.6% rise in sales over the last quarter. Shopping patterns are changing and convenience stores are benefiting from people shopping more locally because of environmental concerns. Wm Morrison is meeting this new demand by establishing smaller stores acquired from Somerfield and the Co-op.

Waitrose C-stores

Waitrose is about to embark on a major push into convenience stores. Two trial outlets have proved their worth and Waitrose now plans to establish up to 300 convenience stores over the next five to 10 years.

The new stores will go head to head with Marks & Spencer's standalone Simply Food stores and will help Waitrose secure a bigger share of the 6.5 million customers who do not have a convenient Waitrose store nearby. Waitrose may also sell own-label convenience products in Boots.

Sainsbury ups stakes

Sainsbury plans to hand out one billion money-off coupons across its stores. The 'coupons at the till' offer will give shoppers discounts on products that they normally buy. The discounts will be handed out to customers who have Nectar cards and those without.

This is in retaliation to Tesco's announcement last month that it is offering double loyalty points on its Clubcard to increase number customers numbers.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury has taken on a new chairman to general market approval. David Tyler, the former GUS finance boss, replaces Sir Philip Hampton, the Royal Bank of Scotland chairman. Tyler has a wide experience of retailing having spent nearly a decade as finance boss of GUS, which, before its break up, owned Argos, Homebase and Experien.