There is no doubt that the customer is dynamic not static. It does not look as if work from home is going to go away any time soon. With many companies wanting all workers back at least a couple days a week and workers not wanting to get stuck in traffic, lose “Their Time” they are hesitant at best to return according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
With the increase in remote and hybrid workers phenomenon continuing it is likely to permanently impact retail food in-store traffic. We all know the work-from-home (WFH) trend was initially a safety-related response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it evolved over time based on convenience and the preference of both employees and employers.
The breakfast daypart was hit the hardest at C-stores and fast-food restaurants. Thus, the widespread move toward a permanently remote or hybrid workforce is affecting many different aspects of consumer behavior especially shopping trips during the breakfast daypart, according to new research conducted by VideoMining.
The current average number of WFH days in the United States is 3.1 per week; approximately 22 percent of U.S. workers identify as working remotely; 53 percent of employed adults say they can effectively do their jobs remotely; and all age groups, including younger generations, prefer the flexibility of remote/hybrid work, according to various research reports.
Additionally, remote workers trend younger, with millennials accounting for 43 percent, and they skew towards men, households with children and higher-income households.
Notably, long-term adoption of WFH means that the loss of foot traffic by daily commuters is more permanent, although the level of impact is highly dependent on store location. The c-store channel will need to look for alternate growth opportunities as it reconciles with the fact that shopping trips will continue to be affected by WFH, the company said.
The breakfast daypart (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.) typically accounts for an average of 19 percent of in-store sales at convenience stores; unsurprisingly, stores that lost the most daily commuters also saw breakfast sales suffer the most. Overall, c-store breakfast has been recovering, but WFH is a factor in a slower-than-expected recovery.
The after-work daypart of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. has also been negatively impacted, hurting sales of products like beer and snacks.
The team at VideoMining pointed out, WFH has led to other aspects of c-store shopper demographics shifting in some stores, such as some stores now having a much higher percentage of blue-collar workers. This in turn has shifted the overall demographics for the stores.
Not all retail channels are feeling the same impact. Outside of the c-store channel, WFH helps grocery stores by increasing the number of employees eating lunch at home; prompting a sharp spike in snacking; and influencing more men and younger shoppers to take the lead in grocery trips.
Because WFH impacts each retail channel and product category differently, it is important to closely monitor the impact that shifting store trips and in-store behaviors have on each category, it added.
State College-based VideoMining helps retailers and consumer packaged goods companies optimize retail performance and experience by decoding in-store behavior.
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