The convenience industry reflected on the past and discussed the future at the annual AACS Gala Awards Dinner last week in Sydney, where retailers, franchisees, store owners and suppliers recognised the excellence of the best in the industry.
“In times such as this, when retail trading conditions are tough, it is particularly important to recognise the efforts of those at the forefront of our industry and encourage the younger professionals who will shape the convenience sector in the future,” AACS Executive Director Jeff Rogut said.
Rogut believes the tough times are due to major supermarkets competing with convenient stores. Supermarkets are targeting items once sold predominantly by convenience stores, such as energy drinks and flavoured milk.
The industry also needs to prepare for consumers with less spending money, according to Rogut. The heavily discounted confectionary in supermarkets, along with new immediate consumption items, is affecting convenience store sales. New government legislation is also likely to pose a challenge.
“…Plain packaging of tobacco and the carbon tax will potentially create barriers to our sector that are diminishing our ability to compete. Any measures resulting in declining sales or increased overheads directly threaten the viability of stores.”
Members of the AACS are seeking greater flexibility in order to be on even ground with larger retailers and to protect the small business owners of convenience stores.
“A common misunderstanding in the convenience industry is that, though many stores operate under strong and recognisable brands associated with large businesses, individually stores are still in the main small businesses run by families and individuals whose livelihood depends on the performance of those stores,” Rogut added.
The AACS continues to research the future of the convenience store industry, which employs over 13,000 Australians.