Making the Most of Going back to school

Now that the summer holidays have ended and family life has returned to normality with the school routine playing a main role, now is the time to think about your customers’ changing needs.

Make Meal for Tonight’ easy

Simple evening meals take centre stage at this time of year and convenience stores can reap the benefits. Around 70% of shoppers don't know at 4pm what they are going to have for dinner that evening so give them inspiration.

In the UK, the average time taken to prepare a meal is 18 minutes, which is not long,” says Nick Widdowson, Merchandising and Creative Controller, Unilever UK.

Homes in the UK also have a fairly limited meal repertoire, rotating through 6 dishes over a fortnight.[1] At the same time, people in the UK put in some of the longest working hours in Europe[2], so sometimes, they just want a quick and easy solution to feeding the family.”

Cooking sauces

These are a great way for convenience operators to offer their customers easy meal solutions. Cooking sauces sales see a jump in September as busy families slot back into the school routine. Nearly 9 out of 10 households buy them. Displaying cooking sauces next to meat or fish can boost sales, and recipe cards can be even more effective.

Customers shop initially by type of cuisine – Indian, Italian etc – then look for their preferred brand. Stocking products in this way will help them find a suitable alternative easily if their preferred brand isn’t stocked. Check out the planograms for suggested layouts.


Group meal items together

Position complementary items together, with sauces near meat, vegetables etc, or, if that’s not possible, tell them where to find everything by using clear signage. Think about the end meal, rather than the individual products and tell customers what goes with what via recipe cards and clipstrips. 


Pots of gold

Pot Snacks can be great earners for stores around colleges and universities as hot snack options for students seeking quick and value-for-money meals. They also appeal to parents looking for post-school snacks for hungry teenagers which has no doubt contributed to the 25% growth of the category since 2012.[3]

Around 82% of Pot Snacks are bought on impulse though and Pot Snacks shoppers are often in a hurry. So, make them visible and put them close to other impulse categories such as confectionery and crisps. If you can, create an area where customers have access to hot water and forks.

Remember, the top two SKUs account for nearly half of all sales and the top five for 70% of the market so check the category page for the best sellers.


Lunch goes back in the box

Now that schools are back, parents are looking for tasty lunchbox options. Sandwiches are still the most popular, so breads, spreads, fillings and condiments need prominent positions.  

Household & Laundry ‘starter packs’

If your customers include university students, this is the time of year they’ll be moving into digs for the first time – and they’re going to need essential household and laundry items. Grab some extra sales by helping them get organised with handy ‘starter packs’ of washing up liquid, bleach, cloths and detergent alongside small packs of washing powder and fabric conditioner.


You could also create packs of grocery essentials for parents to give to their newly independent offspring, with cooking sauces, tea etc… 

[1] Kantar Worldpanel

[2] Office of National Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Eurostat, 2011

[3] Value - Nielsen 52 w/e 17th June