Convenience store number growth dips to six-year low

The growth in the number of convenience stores in Taiwan fell to a new low in six years in 2015, indicating that the local market has been saturated after years of fast development, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

Citing data, the FTC said that the five leading convenience store chains in Taiwan opened 53 new outlets in 2015, up only 0.52 percent from a year earlier, the lowest growth rate in six years.

The five convenience store chains -- 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, Circle K and Million, which is run by state-owned Taiwan Sugar Corp. (??) -- operated a total of 10,207 outlets all over the country as of the end of 2015, the statistics said.

Compared with 2005, the number of convenience stores in Taiwan for 2015 had risen 17.8 percent, the FTC said, adding a saturated market has slowed down the pace of expansion for these convenience store chains in recent years.

The five convenience store chains owned a total of 2,039 stores in New Taipei, the most populous city in Taiwan, in 2015, accounting for 19.98 percent of the total, and the city had the largest number of convenience stores among the cities and counties in the country, the FTC said.

Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, came in second, having 1,472 convenience stores (14.42 percent), ahead of Taoyuan with 1,203 stores (11.79 percent), the FTC added.

In the six metropolitan areas in Taiwan: Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, about 7,540 convenience stores provided services in 2015, making up 73.87 percent of the total, the FTC data showed.

The commission said that the high concentration in the six major cities showed that convenience store chain operators tended to pursue business in populous areas in a bid to rake in large revenue.

The FTC said that tobacco, beverages, boxed meals, sandwiches and hot food were the most welcome items in convenience stores, helping the five largest chain operators generate the majority of their sales.

In addition to merchandise sale, the FTC said, the five convenience store chains also provided customers with a wide range of services, including sales of tickets for movies, transportation and concerts, while customers were able to pay their parking bills, phone bills, credit card bills and utility bills at the counters of these convenience stores.

Perhaps reflecting the slowdown in expansion, the FTC said that the number of visitors to the convenience stores hit 2.91 billion in 2015, little changed from a year earlier.

In terms of average consumption per patron, however, the convenience stores saw that rise to NT$72 (US$2.27) in 2015 from NT$65 recorded in 2009, indicating that people in Taiwan have grown more dependent on these stores in their daily life and were making more purchases there.

The commission said that it will continue to monitor the local convenience store market in a bid to maintain market competition and transaction order in this particular sector.

Source: Focus Taiwan