As 2020 beckons it’s a time of real reflection for me, how we are today, how far we’ve come and just how much has changed.  It feels like in the run-up to Christmas every year my shopping behaviour becomes a novel area of interest to me; my loyalties are tested, where will I shop and what retailers will irritate or indulge me.

It takes me back to when I was 8 years old and my brother told me the exciting news that ‘a big shop’ was being built at the end of our street. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am from the country but growing up three miles from the nearest town this was big news! As the months passed by, I watched the store being built from our living room window, patiently waiting for the day I could get fudge from the jars, in what seemed like touching distance. Ok, sounds dramatic but the convenience of being able to walk to a shop a mere stones throw away and leave with what I wanted was not lost on me, even as a child.

Today I thrive on working with FMCG and retail brands every day, my fascination with the shopper experience continues to grow and I watch with an inbuilt curiosity to see what real innovation is happening within the convenience sector.

It goes without saying the retail landscape has changed in an unprecedented way but what does the future hold for my ‘local shop’? Retail Ireland tell us the Supermarket & Convenience sector remains the bedrock of retail growth in the third quarter of 2019.  Retail Monitor tells us that convenience stores are performing better than supermarkets. (Retail Monitor, Nov 2019) For me, a convert from a very young age, well, I still wholeheartedly agree.

It’s no surprise that today the prominence of online still consumes much of the airwaves. Its profound effect on consumers, with some 94% of Irish internet users shopping online* was a headline stat shared at the Neighbourhood Retailer conference I was at a few weeks back – great conference by the way and a superb line-up of speakers.  For me though, the importance of striking a balance that will enable a cohesive customer experience whilst staying true to your core offer and service is what will keep you in good stead. Yes, consumers want immediate access to products at the best price but isn’t that exactly what the corner shop was created for?!  Today consumers want greater connectivity, to feel as though they matter and are more than just a transaction. Again is there any place better geared for this than your local store where they know your coffee your newspaper and if you’re like me they can predict your late night naughty treats when you fall off the wagon!

In the last decade the retail landscape has changed profoundly.  I appreciate entirely that in the 20’s retailers will continue to innovate but some things are simply built to stand the test of time and for me the corner shop is one of them.  Here’s to a new decade and the prospect of even more, right at our very front door.