Dave Hooker, NZACS Executive Director, says that the past 12 months have taught him that there is no substitute for convenience.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the value of the local convenience store in the wider FMCG retail community. Whether that be for the provision of essential fuels, or top up grocery and food on the go, the convenience sector showed value and resilience in 2020.
So, what does 2021 look like?
I asked a number of members of the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS) management committee, both retailers and suppliers, to comment from their perspective.
Katherine Ledger – Business Manager for oil accounts at Frucor Suntory believes that the need for value will continue to be important to all channels as the economy continues to be tight. Value is not only about the cheapest price, but around consumer perception of ‘worth what I paid for it’.
Ledger says: “The rise in digital business will continue as retailers seek to further their investment in digital infrastructure. Foodservice will continue to be a challenge, due to limited international tourism.”
Daryl Webster – National Key Account Manager for Signature Marketing NZ observes: “As the dominant supplier to the organized convenience/fuel channels in tech, apparel, and sunglasses, our categories are having phenomenal growth at the moment, since the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown.
“We saw the biggest growth coming in both our main categories (Tech and Sunglasses) over this summer holiday period.
“We are forecasting continued growth in tech products and sunglasses in 2021, however our expectation is that the industry will be relatively flat over the coming months. I do not believe convenience, especially locally owned convenience, will dip unless external factors are experienced, such as a lockdown. Key tourist areas such as Queenstown and Rotorua hold the greatest uncertainty for us.”
Matthew Lane, General Manager of Night ‘n Day Foodstores, says: “This is an unknown environment for everyone. We have previously had the benefit of monitoring international trends but currently everyone has their own unique circumstances. What is relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow.
“Focusing on the basics of retailing continues to be important. I believe that clean, safe premises will be at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Furthermore, I believe we will see an increase in support for locally owned businesses as people look at supporting those within their respective communities.”
Peter Morton from Morton and Associates accountants, who work for a good percentage of New Zealand independent service stations, predicts: “Fuel sales will be about 95 per cent of past years with a lack of tourists. Some are up slightly, and some are down a lot in tourist areas.
“The shop sales will be higher, as the trend from the COVID-19 lockdown to use service stations for tobacco and ‘food to go’ products continues. The latest results are strong in those areas, which is encouraging.
“Retail fuel margins will likely be challenging in more regions in the future with the Timaru oil terminal operating.”