The Growing C-Store

The Lempert Report
August 05, 2013

Convenience stores continue to be a regular "go-to" for shoppers. Why?

Convenience stores continue to be a regular "go-to" for shoppers. Why? Well, in particular, they meet immediate-consumption needs with steadily improving prepared foods, and a high-turn, high-impulse mix of products designed for on-the-go lifestyles. Think cold beverages, hot coffee, tobacco, energy drinks, snacks (increasingly healthy ones), lottery tickets, gift cards and gasoline. This formula helped c-stores beat out grocers and drug stores in 2012. According to a new IRi report, Convenience Stores: Keep the Core, Appeal to More, out of those three trade classes, c-stores were the only channel to show both dollar and unit sales growth last year. C-stores also maintain an appeal to a younger generation of shoppers. An NPD study that showed college students between 18 and 24 spent $5.2 billion on 351.4 million visits to c-stores during the 12 months ended June 2012. The high-visibility style of c-store merchandising stimulates their purchases too: 31.9% of c-store purchases by college students are impulsive vs. a 22.7% proportion of impulse buys by other c-store shoppers. In addition, the IRi report highlights the following three areas as some of c-stores’ biggest category opportunities, and this is something that Supermarkets can learn from also. • Electronic cigarettes. C-stores rang up two-thirds of this category’s U.S. retail sales in 2012, which continue to “escalate in 2013” as pricing moderates. Retailers that want to “ride” this growth wave need to continue this wallet-friendly price trend • Health and wellness. Two-thirds of consumers say they try to eat healthier and c-stores can “help them strike a balance between wellness and indulgence in their lives,” adds IRi. • Foodservice. Higher-quality choices are either freshly made or brought in from area restaurants. Toss in healthier choices too, and c-stores have more on hand to draw significant female traffic as well.