However, the miles that vacationers will drive are not expected to increase.
May 23, 2017
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Low gas prices will likely lead to increased summer vacation spending but won’t lead to longer trips, per a new NACS consumer survey of gas customers.
A strong majority of those planning vacations (81%) say they will spend at least as much time on vacation as they did last summer, a strong 10-point increase from 2014 when gas prices averaged more than $3.60 per gallon.
While low gas prices may influence the length of vacations, they likely won’t influence the distance driven. Only one in nine drivers (11%) say they will drive more this summer because of low gas prices.
Summer vacationers expect to spend time and money inside the convenience store where they fill up. Overall, 62% of travelers say they expect to buy a drink and 58% say they will buy a snack when they fill up on their summer vacations. And more than one in four (28%) say that they will buy a meal or sandwich while filling up.
With gas prices low, consumers also say they consider price less important when shopping for fuel. Overall, 46% of drivers say that they will stop at the closest location when they are ready to stop, compared to 41% who say that the gas price dictates where they stop. This is the first time price wasn’t cited as the top reason to selected a fueling location. Quality food options (34%) and clean bathrooms (33%) were also cited as top reasons to stop.
Other highlights from the survey include:
75% of travelers say they willuse the store’s bathroom when fueling up on trips this summer, a 5-point jump from last year.
Women are much more likely to purchasebottled waterthan men (66% vs. 49%), and are also more likely to buy candy (73% vs. 52%) and coffee (55% vs. 44%).
Travelers are seeking out healthier choices: 29% of consumers say they are buying more healthier choices than a year ago, and 43% of those ages 18-34 are buying more healthier items.
“Vacationers are saying that they will reward retailers who can best meet their one-stop shopping needs, whether fueling up, taking a bathroom break, grabbing quick snacks and drinks or enjoying upscale meals and healthy options,”
said NACS Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Jeff Lenard.
Store sales from June through August are 11.3% higher than the rest of the year, especially beverage sales, according to sales data from NACS. Convenience stores account for 42% of all packaged beverage sales and 59% of beer sales in the country, factoring in all sales from convenience stores, grocery, drug and mass merchandisers, according to Nielsen.
Throughout the year, Americans are more likely to visit a convenience store to quench a thirst than for any other reason. Nearly half of all convenience store customers (49%) said that they primarily stopped to purchase a beverage on their most recent visit, according to a 2016 NACS consumer survey.
Not surprisingly, ice sales also are extremely strong over the summer months.Approximately two-thirds of all sales of bagged ice occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the International Packaged Ice Association. And, of course, convenience stores are the top destination to purchase bagged ice. Convenience stores sell an estimated 45% of all packaged ice purchased, or $1.9 billion overall.
This NACS consumer survey was conducted by polling and marketing firm PSB; 1,104 Americans were surveyed from May 3-5, 2017.
Data security is top priority to Sterling. We periodically send new and critical Data Security Alerts regarding security threats and best practices to help protect payment card data. Data Security Alerts may be useful in assisting stakeholders with valuable information for mitigating security risks.
On Friday, May 12, new malware was detected called “WannaCry.” This malware is a very dangerous Trojan virus called “ransomware.” The virus in effect holds the infected computer hostage and demands the victim pay a ransom to regain access to the files on his or her computer.
WannaCry is the most severe malware attack so far this year and is far from over. The attack began sweeping globally last Friday, and researchers estimate that nearly 57,000 computers in more than 150 countries were infected by end of day Friday. As of this morning, more than 200,000 systems around the world are believed to have been infected.
What exactly does WannaCry do? WannaCry works by encrypting most or all the files on a user’s computer. Then, the software demands that a ransom be paid in order to have the files decrypted. The software demands that the victim pay a ransom of $300 in bitcoins at the time of infection. If the user doesn’t pay the ransom within three days, the amount doubles to $600. After seven days without payment, WannaCry will delete all of the encrypted files and all data will be lost.
Unfortunately, there is no fix for WannaCry at this time. Antivirus companies and cybersecurity experts are working to find ways to decrypt files on infected computers, but it is not available right now.
What you can do: Ransomware spreads through malicious attachments in emails, so avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources.
Regardless of which operating system you run, you should install all available security updates immediately. Specifically, Windows users with machines that run Windows XP, Windows 8 or Windows Server 2003 should immediately install the security update from Microsoft that was released on Friday.
Altria and RJR’s Tobacco Rebate Programs are a huge success. We want to welcome all of the many new customers from coast-to-coast to the program!
The rebate program allows bigger profits in a very competitive tobacco market. The best news is that Insight Retail Software does ALL of the work for you. Once you sign up with your Altria and RJR reps we do the hard part.
More Americans will be spending the most amount ever to celebrate the luck of the Irish.
March 17, 2017
WASHINGTON – Today, more than 139 million Americans of all nationalities plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, spending more than ever before on the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. Spending for St. Patrick’s Day was expected to reach $5.3 billion, an all-time high in the survey’s 13-year history.
Consumers are expected to spend an average of $37.92 per person, up from last year’s $35.37 and a new record that tops the previous high of $36.52 set in 2015. The $5.3 billion total is up dramatically from last year’s $4.4 billion and tops the previous record of $4.8 billion set in 2014.
“Now that winter is almost behind us and with St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday, more Americans [will get] together to celebrate with friends and family,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, in a press release. “Retailers should expect a nice boost in sales as consumers purchase apparel, decorations, food and beverages to help make their celebrations special.”
According to the survey, 83% of celebrants will wear green to show their Irish pride, 31% plan to make a special dinner and 27% will head to a party at a bar or restaurant. The survey found that 52% of celebrants will purchase food, 41% beverages, 28% apparel or accessories, 22% decorations and 14% will buy candy.
“St. Patrick’s Day is a time for consumers of all ages to have fun and celebrate all things Irish whether it is attending a parade, cooking an Irish meal, or meeting friends at a bar or restaurant,” Prosper Insights Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “While more Americans are planning to celebrate the shamrock-filled day, expect millennials to take the lead among the festivities.”
Google Chrome is a great browser, but it’s not great to your laptop’s battery. The more tabs you have open, the quicker your computer will run out of juice (although at a certain point, one more tab won’t make a difference for your already tanked battery, as a WIRED writer found out during a 2013 test). Now, Google is trying to fix the problem. The new version of Chrome dramatically reduces the percentage of CPU (central processing unit) your computer uses while running a large number of tabs in the browser. The result? Greater battery life and faster performance, according to Ars Technica UK.
Previously, you could download an extension like One Tab, which collapses all your open tabs into a list of links to reduce memory usage, but sometimes, you just need to be able to toggle between tabs while the pages are still loaded—especially if you’re working on a research project.
Chrome 57 increases how much the browser throttles background tabs, meaning it limits the amount of CPU that the tab can use. After 10 seconds of being in the background (so not the tab you’re actively looking at), Chrome limits how much processing power a tab can use to about 1 percent of each processing core, improving battery life. However, this doesn’t apply to some types of web pages, like those playing music.
As Sebastian Anthony writes for Ars Technica:
The Chromium team says it’s seeing ’25 percent fewer busy background tabs’ with the new throttling mechanism in place. Anecdotally, after updating to Chrome 57 and with about 20 tabs open, my laptop feels a lot more responsive. Switching between tabs feels a little quicker, and there seems to be less input lag when typing or otherwise interacting with the browser. I haven’t tested battery life yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a significant improvement.
By 2020, Google plans to completely suspend background tabs from updating, rather than letting them continue running and using up CPU, a move that will likely increase battery life significantly. For now, however, Google estimates that Chrome 57 has led to 25 percent fewer busy background tabs.
You can update your browser by going to “About Google Chrome” in your taskbar.
Sometimes it’s nice to step away from EMV and Blizzards and all things political to just smile. Perhaps have a Coke and a smile. This guy turned 11 yesterday and is in our circle of family operated business. He’s the smartest and kindest kid I know.
Last week we attended “The Really Big Expo” in Myrtle Beach, SC where there was much discussion about the growing and changing food service options in C-Stores. We attended NACS “Ideas 2 Go” program discussion which showcased emerging concepts that redefine convenience stores. Another huge topic of conversation is how the millennials are changing the way people eat and shop. Gone are the days of a dried hot dog spinning on a warmer as your only option. C-Stores are ‘destination spots’ – not just a place to fill your tank. Bigger selections and healthier options are becoming the norm.
If you’ve seen the 2013 NACS Ideas 2 Go program, then you’ll recognize many of the retailers the NY Times visited: Thai Pan, Flory’s and Seoul Food D.C. Each establishment was part of a segment on some of the best gourmet ethnic food found at a single-store operation, and the retailers behind these businesses that deliver exceptional food and innovative new ideas.
“Encouraged by the changing tastes of consumers and the potential for profit, a metamorphosis has taken place in at least 1,500 locations nationwide: at independent gas stations as well as those owned by oil giants like Shell and Exxon and convenience store chains like 7-Eleven,” writes the NY Times, adding that “fresh produce, elaborate sandwiches and even grilled tilapia and Korean bibimbap” are becoming more ubiquitous at the local convenience store.
These locations “are now cool to discover and tell others about,” Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president for strategic initiatives, told the news source. In fact, the industry has come a long way from food offers that merely served up punchlines for movies such as “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” where Chevy Chase laments, “I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.”
“We definitely see, year after year, convenience stores presenting a competitive threat to quick-service outlets like McDonald’s,” Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic, told the news source. Citing NACS State of the Industry data (newly released numbers will be presented next month at the State of the Industry Summit), in 2015, about 34% of in-store profits at convenience stores came from foodservice, up from 22% in 2010.
Larger convenience store chains, such as Sheetz, are adding drive-thrus and touchscreen ordering kiosks to accommodate their growing foodservice operations. The NY Times writes that there’s also “an increasing number of roving food trucks” at c-stores, such as Andrae’s Kitchen, in Walla Walla, Washington (hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches), and the Brew Pump, in Asheville, North Carolina (eight beers on tap, beer garden and sandwiches).
“Food industry analysts now consider convenience markets competition for some of the most powerful names in the restaurant industry,” writes the NY Times, adding that an estimated 10% of the 154,000-plus convenience stores across the country—a $575 billion industry—“could be described as food-forward.”
LEESBURG, Va. — Last summer, when two women were looking for a restaurant space in this Northern Virginia town of 48,000, one of the options held multiple enticements: It was affordable, it had a good location, the kitchen was fit for Asian cooking and it was in a gas station.
They signed on the dotted line and retained the name of the previous business, Thai Pan. Now, while the brick exterior is connected to a Liberty gas station and resembles a well-fortified bunker, the authentic Thai fare served in a charming dining room is drawing locals and adventuresome foodies from throughout the region.
“People come in here and say, ‘Wow, I never expected something like this,’” said Wilaivan Kammoongkun, one of the women behind the new Thai Pan.
The restaurant is part of a wave of gas stations and convenience stores capitalizing on a growing demand for fresh, healthful and convenient road food. Encouraged by the changing tastes of consumers and the potential for profit, a metamorphosis has taken place in at least 1,500 locations nationwide: at independent gas stations as well as those owned by oil giants like Shell and Exxon and convenience store chains like 7-Eleven.
As a result, roller-grilled hot dogs and little packaged cakes of indefinite shelf life are, in many places, giving way to fresh produce, elaborate sandwiches and even grilled tilapia and Korean bibimbap. Popular food trucks and food carts are adding to the variety, many setting up shop just feet from gas pumps to take advantage of a steady stream of customers.
The locations “are now cool to discover and tell others about,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president for strategic initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores.
It certainly hasn’t always been this way. In fact, convenience store food regularly stood in as a joke. In the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” a hapless dad behind the wheel of a station wagon, played by Chevy Chase, laments, “I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.”
Major oil companies still tend to shy away from the complicated and risky food business. But in the early 2000s, when a long-term decline in revenue from food, gas, cigarettes and other products approached troublesome levels, many gas station and convenience store owners started to rethink their business models.
Now, an estimated 10 percent of the 154,000 convenience stores across the country — a $31 billion industry — could be described as food-forward, the National Association of Convenience Stores says.
The largest chain, 7-Eleven, with 10,900 stores in North America, has been polishing its game for more than a decade. Nearly all of its fresh food, heavy on fruits and vegetables, is prepared in regional commissaries.
The service station strategy appears to be working: In 2015, about 34 percent of in-store profits at convenience markets came from food and beverage service, up from 22 percent in 2010, according to the trade organization. Food industry analysts now consider convenience markets competition for some of the most powerful names in the restaurant industry.
“We definitely see, year after year, convenience stores presenting a competitive threat to quick-service outlets like McDonald’s,” said Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic, a research company that follows the food industry.
Upgraded convenience stores are found across the country, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Greater Dallas and the area around Harrisburg, Pa., are two hubs. The Tigris and Euphrates of the genre, though, might be the region in and around Washington. Here, one can feast on a variety of treats, including house-cured corned beef, Thai specialties, regional Mexican fare, homemade pizza, fried chicken and barbecue.
In 2012, Jon Rossler had the opportunity to permanently park a corned beef food truck at an Exxon station in Olney, Md., north of Washington.
The following year he moved inside, opening a spiffy 20-seat restaurant with faux brick walls, granite counters and large computer screen menus. Today, Corned Beef King goes through 150 pounds of corned beef and pastrami weekly, and 100 pounds of brisket. The business started with two employees; today there are 16.
“It’s wild,” Mr. Rossler said. “I think I may have gotten too big.”
Occupying part of an Exxon station in suburban Silver Spring, Md., is Seoul Food D.C., a cheerful, three-year-old art-festooned cafe serving gorgeous Korean dishes like bibimbap (sticky rice with vegetables, greens, a sunny-side-up egg and choice of protein) and the super bowl (rice, caramelized kimchi, spicy relish, two cheeses and Korean red sauce).
The experimentation also extends to the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill, N.Y., and the family enterprise Flory’s, which has four locations.
At first glance, especially at night, one of its stores — sleek and modern and large at 1,900 square feet — resembles a small casino with 14 gas pumps.
All food is made in-house: sandwiches, salads, soups and prepared meals. There is also a healthy fare section and make-your-own-milkshake machines. Two cooks toil in a small open kitchen preparing specialties like chili, lasagna, quesadillas, fried chicken and stuffed sole. Breakfast begins — with 16 types of coffee — at 4 a.m.
Jamy Flory, a co-owner and vice president of the enterprise, said the concept had succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations. When he first opened, he said, the meat and cheese purveyor Boar’s Head was reluctant to be associated with a gas station. Flory’s is now a regular customer.
“We were apprehensive about doing this because we were not sure about customers wanting to eat in a convenience store,” Mr. Flory said.
Taking cues from fast-food restaurants, many convenience stores are also providing drive-through windows and ordering kiosks. Sheetz, a chain of 541 gas stations based in Pennsylvania, has a store near Harrisburg that welcomes customers to relax outside at umbrella-shaded tables that afford the exhilarating view of automobiles being topped off.
There is also an increasing number of roving food trucks at service stations, among them Andrae’s Kitchen, in Walla Walla, Wash., (hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches), and the Brew Pump, in Asheville, N.C. (eight beers on tap, beer garden and sandwiches).
“We want to be about good food but also about some fun,” said Mr. Flory, proudly showing a customer his arctic-themed “beer cave” with a giant simulated polar bear on top. (It’s where beer inventory is kept.) “People get a kick out of it, so why not?”