As a nation known for enduring all hardships and having a stiff upper lip, there is only a few topics that can break stoic façade of British endurance. We like to ‘keep calm and carry on’ regardless of the atrocities.

That is unless you do something completely outrageous, of course. Like change the price of a frog-shaped chocolate the size of a thumb. Or make a meat-free sausage roll. You know, the important potential impacts on day-to-day life.

“Back in my day, we could get Freddos for 10p! And if we wanted fashion inspiration, we had to go buy a copy of Mizz magazine. No Instagram folks in my day!”

We brits like to take the price of our favourite little chocolate frog very personally and a sharp increase can be sure to strike a raw nerve. Freddo’s seem to serve as a reminder that things have changed on our high streets, and for some of us, their changing price makes us realise how old we are getting.

What’s changed?

The high-profile price change of the much loved Freddo is not the only change we have seen at our local corner shops.

According to The Local Shop Report 2018 from the Association of Convenience Stores, there are 46,262 convenience stores in UK’s mainland, and 28% of these are run by people who have been in the business for more than 25 years.

As for their customers:

Age range Gen Z (16-24) Millennials (25-34) Gen X (35-54) Baby Boomers (55-74) Silent Generation (75+)
Customer percentage 13% 17% 33% 29% 8%
Top reason for visit Food-to-go (32%) Food-to-go (21%) Grocery top-up (22%) Newsagent (32%) Newsagent (42%)
Top driver for visit Close to home (66%) Close to home (62%) Close to home (64%) Close to home (70%) Close to home (82%)

There are interesting changes and developments across all the generations although the main consumer base is Generation X. Where the older two generations prefer to use corner shops as their source of information and news, naturally the younger two generations tend to get their news from smartphones apps and websites. In fact, one study highlighted that Generation Z in particular tends to get their news updates from Instagram (29%), YouTube (22%), and Facebook (15%). In the future, corner shops will not be a source of news for many of its customers at all.

Suiting the changing consumers’ needs

Corner shops were originally created as a way of providing grocery shopping to inhabitants of Britain’s newly created towns, but this dwindled away with the rise of super marketing and hyper-competitive pricing. Thus, forcing corner shops to adopt new products to appeal to customers. Corner shops are enjoying something of a return to their roots with Generation X opting to forgo the big weekly shop in favour for smaller, more frequent shops in what can be described a ‘top-up’ shops.

Corner shops have now entered the younger generations adored coffee market with many corner shops installing their own Frappuccino machines to complement the much their much-loved slush machines and offering prepared sandwiches to appeal in the same fashion. Millennials and Generation Z seem to be using corner shops for exactly what they are meant to be used for – convenience. Their main reason for visiting is for food-to-go — something fast for their time-starved lifestyles.

How convenient

Corner shops still have a focus on convenience. Every generation cited that the local proximity of their corner shop was a main driver to their visit. There is consensus amongst brits that your local corner shops always have their time to come in extremely useful. But the concentration of these shops has transformed and evolved over the years to cater to an ever-growing list of demands and expectations. As The Grocer points out, convenience stores now stand as a melding of multiple shops, with food options like takeaways, postal services from the Post Office, baked goods in line with cafés, top-up facilities, ATM machines, and more. There is speculation that the convivence store industry will continue to see growth as a jack-of-all-trades extending to services that are still quite cumbersome in the modern age, such as collecting repeat prescriptions or missed parcels.

What is your opinion of the way in which corner shops have adapted to suit their consumers seemingly constant changing demands? Do you miss the traditionally ‘oh so British’ convenience store or are you happy with how much more, well, convenient they have become with their modern offerings of increasingly multi-functional stores?