CORNER SHOPS are within walking distance of many homes, open long hours and small enough not to require customers to linger too long inside. They no longer sell just basic necessities, such as milk, beer and sweets. And they offer other services, from charging e-bikes in South Korea to paying for online shopping in Mexico. On paper, this makes them perfectly suited to the pandemic. And in practice?
Going into covid-19, convenience stores were a mixed bag. Some benefited as busier lifestyles, smaller households and ageing populations led more people to shop little, often and locally. They were the only brick-and-mortar shops in South Korea whose sales grew in 2019. OXXO, a Mexican chain with some 20,000 outlets across Latin America, reported sales of $8.7bn in 2019, up by 10% on the year before. Minimarts, which mostly operate as franchises, have been opening in China, India and Thailand.
Elsewhere they have struggled. In Japan, home to the world’s three biggest chains, they have been in outright decline. The share price of Seven & i Holdings, the giant which owns 7-Eleven and accounts for a third of the industry’s $360bn in global revenues, has dropped by around 30% over the past two years, as investors cooled on its saturated domestic market. Its two Japanese rivals, FamilyMart and Lawson, have been laggards, too (...
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This content was originally published by The Economist: Business. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By The Economist: Business