An increasing number of UK consumers are choosing to purchase their groceries from convenience stores rather than major supermarkets, according to a new report.
Statistics compiled by Nielsen show that during the four weeks leading up to March 29th, customers spent 4.3 per cent less at big retailers than in 2013, while sales at convenience outlets were up 0.6 per cent compared to last year.
The majority of supermarkets now also own convenience stores, which appear to be becoming increasingly popular with consumers, especially with the news that the majority now purchase between six and ten items per shopping trip. These now account for 20 per cent of all grocery buying outings - an increase of 2.2 per cent from 2013.
Nielsen found that 51 per cent of shoppers chose to visit a convenience store on account of its location, while 43 per cent found them to be better value than other retailers.
However, 21 per cent of those taking part in the survey visited such outlets as well as doing a weekly shop, simply to 'top up' or purchase fresh ingredients as and when they were needed.
Mike Watkins, head of retail and business insight at Nielsen, said: "Historically, traditional convenience stores were used for immediate or 'distress' purchasing. However, the huge investment by the major supermarkets has transformed this format.
"The likes of Tesco Express, Sainsbury's Local and Co-operatives now offer a greater variety of food and drink which can be purchased ahead for the next few days, so basket sizes and spend per visit are increasing."
Despite the growing popularity among convenience stores, sales for the period decreased slightly for some of the major grocery retailers, with Asda's sales falling by 1.7 per cent, Tesco's by 4.5 per cent and Sainsbury's by 2.7 per cent.
Aldi, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer all performed reasonably well, increasing their market share.
The decline in sales is thought to be primarily due to the late date of Easter this year - which is usually a busy time for grocery outlets of all sizes - as it fell during this four-week period in 2013.