Convenience stores find gold in veggies
Convenience stores have started stocking more fresh vegetables since the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home -- and made them a profit center.
BGF Retail, operator of the CU chain, said Thursday that vegetable sales last year jumped 78.3 percent compared to a year earlier. From 2016 through 2019, vegetable sales grew less than 20 percent annually.
The growth is continuing this year, the chain said, 26.5 percent in the first quarter.
“Buying vegetables at a convenience store has become common since Covid-19, which triggered more shopping close to home,” said the company. A wider variety of vegetables offered contributed to the increase, it said.
Of all vegetables, bean sprouts sold the best in March, followed by onions and green onions.
GS25 has seen the same trend.
Vegetable sales at GS25 stores climbed 68.9 percent in March compared to the same period last year. From April 1 through 6, they rose 50.3 percent.
“Vegetables sold at convenience stores come in small quantities,” said Park Do-young, a spokesperson for GS Retail. “So they are particularly good for individual households and people who don’t want to go to a discount mart to purchase such small quantities.”
To capitalize on the trend, the chains are adding vegetables.
This month, CU will sell chili peppers and perilla leaves.
It is also promising customers prices that are 50 percent cheaper than discount marts' during a promotional period.
The 7-Eleven chain is launching a brand pf groceries later this month.
“People these days prefer shopping [for vegetables] at convenience stores over local supermarkets because of the clean conditions of convenience stores and their trust in the quality of the products,” said Lee Eun-hee, a professor who teaches consumer studies at Inha University.
BY JIN MIN-JI, LEE BYUNG-JUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]