Talking to trade magazine Independent Retail News, Darcy Willson-Rymer, Chief Executive of national symbol group Costcutter, has shared that the group’s retailers have seen non-tobacco sales up by almost 22% in the four-month period to the end of April. This comes off the back of a strong full-year performance for 2019 when retailer sales boosted group income by 10% to reach £426m, returning the company to profit for the first time in several years.
Group store numbers steady on 1,550
While the group saw some churn in its retailer membership during 2019, store numbers have remained broadly stable. Moreover, the group has benefited from a successful recruitment strategy, with an influx of more progressive retailers focused on investing to grow sales. Supported by Costcutter’s innovative Shopper First store development programme, new retailers have been purchasing 50% more through the group’s buying relationship with Nisa/Costcutter than those leaving membership.
Lockdown sales lead by packaged grocery, frozen and BWS
With shoppers focused on shopping locally for take home needs March and April particularly saw massive uplifts in packaged grocery, frozen and BWS categories with each running at around double their normal levels for the time of year. Meanwhile at the peak of stockpiling in mid-to-late March, total sales were up by 100%.
Future focus on turning ‘lifeline’ shoppers into ‘lifelong’ shoppers
Commenting on the experience of the coronavirus emergency Darcy Willson-Rymer commented: ‘In just two months, the coronavirus crisis has transformed the value of the convenience sector for shoppers and local communities. As a result we expect sales to remain higher than usual for the time being. However, as the lockdown eases, demand may begin to slowly return to normal levels and that is when we will accelerate elements of our 2020 plans to help independent retailers convert their new lifeline shoppers to lifelong shoppers.’