Channel Pulse: what’s changing in grocery retail?


With an increasing choice of venues open for out of home meals and the added lure of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, this week’s Channel Pulse data shows a notable shift in channel opportunity. Both convenience stores (+53%) and discounters (+48%) have seen a decline in channel opportunity, both by 5ppts vs. the previous week. Supermarkets retain their top position in terms of the channels that consumers expect to be visiting more of in the next week, remaining stable week-on-week at +73%.

Familiarity, the need of ‘it’s where I always go’, has declined across three meal occasions, suggesting that consumers are seeking variety and are less like to stick to their usual grocery store.

Online grocery grows share of dinner meal occasions

The shift to online delivery has been one of the key changes in grocery shopping habits during lockdown and this trend continues. This week’s data shows a +2.4pp increase in the share of dinner meal occasions through online grocery, at the expense of in-store which has seen a -5.0ppt decline. Comparing across all four meal occasions, Channel Pulse data highlights that breakfast is the most popular daypart for grocery delivery, with the channel holding a 16.0% share of this meal occasion.

Friendly and helpful staff are still important in the grocery channel

During peak coronavirus quarantine, Channel Pulse data showed ‘friendly and helpful staff’ to be a declining need, as shoppers prioritised getting in and out of shops as quickly as possible with limited interaction.

Last week, friendly and helpful staff increased as a need across three out of four meal occasions and this week this growth has continued at lunch (+1pp) and dinner (+1pp). This is despite a significant increase in reports of abusive behaviour towards shop staff recently and therefore an encouraging sign that shop workers still play an important part in the shopping experience. This is particularly encouraging for convenience stores as our Convenience Tracking Programme has consistently found that friendly and helpful staff is a key footfall driver for c-stores.