The pandemic has underscored one critical truth for the the convenience industry—business as usual is no longer an option.
Changing customer demand and behaviours have reshaped the path forward as retailers were faced with the challenge of rapidly evolving from convenient to essential. By keeping our doors open, we’ve played an important frontline role serving customers in communities across the country.
We successfully transformed from quick stops to one-stop shops as stay-at-home orders forced customers to change their shopping habits, specifically relying on their neighbourhood c-stores for daily essentials. And we met this challenge while facing increasing costs, lower foot traffic and dwindling profit margins.
As we look to the future and enter the recovery phase, navigating the new normal will hinge on innovation and meeting ever-changing customer demands. That’s why any post-pandemic recovery strategy must focus on expanding our product offerings.
The convenience industry has a solid track record in innovation. Retailers have embraced products and snacks not traditionally the domain of c-stores. Vendors are offering new products including healthier snacks, plant-based foods, and fresh takes on favourite convenience staples.
But we have more work ahead and CICC will continue working on the industry’s behalf.
For the past 15 months, our advocacy efforts have been focused on pandemic-related issues including helping our retailers navigate changing retail restrictions and operating requirements as well as prioritizing our frontline workers for vaccination.
As more Canadians receive their vaccines and governments return to pre-pandemic legislative agendas, we will focus on the recovery phase, working with decision makers to ensure that policies are reflective of the needs of all industry stakeholders to better serve consumers.
We are ramping up our advocacy efforts to expand the range of products that can be sold in our channel, most importantly getting beverage alcohol in c-stores in every province.
CICC is also connecting key players in the industry. We recently launched our Innovation Channel, a bulletin specifically highlighting and sharing manufacturers’ new products directly with retailers and distributors.
I’m proud of how our industry rallied together to address the many challenges of the pandemic. As we enter the recovery phase, we must continue to work together to ensure that we shape the industry of the future—one that meets changing consumer demands and where we play an expanded role in the communities we serve.
We know that the pandemic has reshaped consumers’ expectations when it comes to convenience stores and meeting those new expectations will require both innovative thinking and hard work, but if the past few months are any indication, we are up to the challenge.
We have no other choice. Business as usual is no longer and option.