Press Room

Garage forecourt stores meet South African consumers’ need for speed

Johannesburg– November 14, 2017 – The increasingly time-starved nature of consumers’ lives is driving the evolution of South Africa’s R35-Billion convenience retail sector, which currently commands 10% of total market retail spend.

These findings stem from Nielsen’s broader 2016 – 2017 South Africa Shopper Trends report, which found that the popularity of this store format is due to ease of use and convenience, which makes it the channel of choice for weekly on-the-go consumption purchases, late night shops and everyday emergency purchases.

This means that despite South Africa’s current pressurised retail environment and consumers having less to spend on impulse purchases, there is excellent potential for growth within branded garage forecourt stores for example, Engen Quickstop, BP Express and Caltex FreshStop and branded superettes such as Pick n’ Pay Express, USave and 7-Eleven.

Nielsen South Africa Head of Retailer Services Gareth Paterson says; “Time is precious, and shoppers are looking for a store that is accessible. Retail stores on fuel station forecourts are meeting this need with their proximity to shoppers’ homes and work, longer operating hours and their growing range of products and services.


The reality driving this growing interest is that this format has gone beyond pure impulse or top-up purchases such as milk, bread, sodas, snacks and cigarettes. It’s expanding into broader product ranges and service areas which include bakery, fresh and convenience foods and beverages including speciality coffees. Paterson comments; “Those stores that offer ready prepared foods and beverages which can be consumed on-the-go, are preferred by time-strapped individuals.”

Paterson also comments that given that South African shoppers are being driven by a strong need for convenient access, they are also looking for differentiators such as: ease of parking, longer opening hours, staff who provide excellent customer service and a pleasant and safe store environment.


The Shopper Trends report revealed that as much as 89% of these spontaneous consumers frequent just two to three convenience stores of choice along their daily routes. While convenience consumers motivated by ease and speed don’t display high loyalty, they have good awareness of the various forecourt retail brands, provide frequent visits, and are more likely to recommend their preferred stores, thereby creating organic ambassadors for the retailer brands.

“When it comes to store attributes, consumers prefer those stores with a loyalty programme, efficient checkout points, well presented shelving and displays and stores which offer the preferred brand or product they are looking for,” says Paterson.

In terms of shopper demographic, the Shopper Trends study found that upper LSM shoppers are most likely to frequent convenience outlets. Interestingly, more men (58%) are likely to consider purchasing everyday grocery items at this kind of outlet versus their female counterparts (42%). The average monthly spend at these outlets is R357.


Looking at the convenience opportunity going forward, Nielsen has highlighted these key points to ensure small is also smart:

  • Fast check-out = shorter queues – The use of technology allowing for speedier self-checkout would be beneficial, considering the fewer number of items normally purchased per trip.
  • Powering up product displays – Forecourt retailers have largely mastered the art of impulse displays but there’s an opportunity to improve the presentation of other categories. As fuel owners become more established retail owners, they will need new skills and expertise to enhance the overall retail experience.
  • Petrol…and private label – Now that retailers have a branded store presence on petrol forecourts their own brands are, and should become, more prevalent within these stores in tandem with Private Label brands’ increased share within the country.
  • Big data, bigger baskets – The use of data analytics will allow retailers to analyse factors such as basket composition and product assortment as well as explore the time and day when purchases spike. In this way, retailers could fashion their stores around the shopping dynamics and experiment with product and promotional concepts to drive purchases throughout the day.

Convenience outlets present a storehouse of opportunity as consumers’ lifestyles evolve. The key is to tap into the shopping missions and consumer needs to maximise this opportunity with the right strategy. 


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population.  For more information, visit

Contact: Jayashree Janardhanan