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Why business is brisk at corner shops in African markets

A trader running a shop in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa. [File, Standard]

Corner shops are doing better than predicted despite protracted supply chain issues and big-box and online retail competitors.

This is according to a new report confirming better-than-expected sales and that 94 per cent of consumers surveyed plan to shop as much or more at their corner shops in the future.

According to the report, both shopkeepers and customers believe, however, that corner stores will need to accelerate digital technology adoption to remain relevant and competive.                                          

The 2022 Digitising the Corner Shop report, published by Flourish, a global fintech investor in partnership with Bain & Company and 60 Decibels, elevates the voices of more than 800 shopkeepers and 800 of their customers in Brazil, Egypt, India and Indonesia.

These primary findings give shopkeepers, technology providers and investors insights into this Sh107 billion (900 billion dollar)  industry with informal retailing making up 67 per cent of total retail across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The report says that 50 per cent of consumers visit their corner shop daily, 24 per cent regularly use a store tab for credit purchases, and 71 per cent of consumers purchased more groceries from local corner shops during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Also, 73 per cent of consumers strongly agree that the corner shop is vital to their community, valuing proximity, convenience, and service and 80 per cent of shopkeepers are eager for digital business and financial tools, which have the potential to increase profits by 60 to 100 per cent.

“Continued patronage will depend on further digitisation of store operations and customer responsiveness. The findings of our research can be applied to other markets in sub-Saharan Africa with corner shops adopting some form of digital solution with the diffusion of mobile technologies solving many of the challenges shop owners face, making it easier to track inventory, record sales, monitor cash flow, and supervise customers’ credit,” the report said.