U.K. C-Stores Poised to Win Grab-and-Go Customers

Food-to-go at grocery stores has suffered, while convenience retailers seize the opportunity. 

August 12, 2021

Grab-and-Go Food

LONDON—The pandemic significantly impacted the grocery channel, particularly in the U.K., including the food-to-go segment, which fell 46% in 2020, according to the Lumina Intelligence UK Food To Go Market Report 2021, The Grocer reports.

While grab-and-go sales are expected to return to 2019 levels by the end of 2022 as workers begin to return to the office, U.K. convenience stores have an opportunity to grab more of the prepared food sales, according to “The Convenience Mix Podcast.”

Opportunities identified on the podcast include commuter settings, busy main streets and neighborhood stores. “Meal kits are a really great example of innovation in the sector,” said co-host Blonnie Whist, Lumina Insights director.

“Food to go is not just a sandwich and crisps (chips) offering,” said Aidan Fortune, conveniencestore.co.uk editor. One retailer focused on the meal occasion with updated menus featuring healthy options.

“One thing on food-to-go was it was always going to come back, and retailers now have the chance to really plan it and come back with a plan,” said Ronan Hegarty, news director of The Grocer.

Whist mentioned how c-stores are refitting to expand food-to-go sections. “It seems like lots of stores are reconfiguring their locations to fit this segment,” she added.

“The investment is a lot, but the potential is there,” Fortune said. “The market will recover and grow, as people working from home will need food to go as well. Retailers have realized the potential of this category.”

“One way retailers can grab more impulse purchase is through colorful signage,” Whist added. The colorful signage that convenience stores are known for often draw in hungry, strapped-for-time customers, all as the role of impulse purchasing in convenience grab-and-go also rises.

To learn more about the newest ways c-stores are bringing in customers with digital signage promoting their offers, read “Attention, Shoppers!” in NACS Magazine.