Given globally changing social distancing norms and ongoing economic concerns, we are seeing the growing importance of community and proximity retail stores. With over 7,000 SPAR stores in the proximity channel in Europe, SPAR is a recognised leader in proximity retailing where our stores are closely integrated with the communities they serve.
While the proximity channel has experienced strong growth in recent years, the COVID-19 crisis has acted as an accelerator to this trend. Since 2015, SPAR globally has recorded a sustained compound annual growth rate of over 5%. In addition, our larger format EUROSPAR and INTERSPAR stores have also performed well in residential locations, providing ease of accessibility to shoppers, proving that the success of proximity retail is deﬁned more by location than the actual size of the store.
Larger format stores, particularly in shopping centres, experienced reduced footfall but were able to partially offset this through larger average baskets or by using these larger stores for replenishment and online ordering. City centre stores, which rely on high levels of trafﬁc, were impacted, with many repurposing their stores to offer food-to-heat solutions for at home consumption, which has proved popular.
As various national lockdowns have eased, consumers have continued to shop locally, creating new shopping habits and thus we see this as a more sustained growth driver for the brand. The critical role our stores have played during the crisis has built up positive trust and loyalty which, in turn, has a positive impact on sales growth, ensuring we are well placed for the future.