NACS: Menu Labeling Rule Goes In Effect Today

May 7, 2018

Retailers that share a name with at least 19 other stores must begin labeling the caloric content of any prepared foods.
May 7, 2018

​WASHINGTON – As of today, the Food and Drug Administration’s “menu labeling” rule is in effect. Retailers, who share a store name with at least 19 other stores, must begin labeling the caloric content of any prepared foods in their stores. This includes self-serve beverage, such as soda fountains and coffee.

The rule has been delayed for a number of years by both FDA’s only action and/or Congressional direction, but is now in effect. FDA has indicated that they are not intending to sanction any retailers for violations for the first year of the new rule but rather treat that time as an educational period. However, retailers in states and localities that have passed their own identical or nearly identical rules, such as California and New York City, should be aware that those localities are able to enforce their rules beginning today as well. Those jurisdictions are not restricted by the FDA’s plan to treat this year as educational.

In the meantime, NACS GR staff are continuing to work with FDA and congressional allies to continue to get changes to the rule which would make compliance less burdensome on convenience retailers. Legislation that would have amended the rule passed the House earlier this year with a bipartisan majority. The Common-Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act would make compliance make sense in different retail channels. Efforts to move the legislation in the Senate have been stymied by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who is ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation in the body.

While that legislation remains pending before the United States Senate, retailers covered by the rule should be complying with the rule as of today. NACS members can visit the NACS Menu Labeling Compliance page where they can access a document that helps outline retailers’ requirements under this rule.  Furthermore, this morning the FDA released its latest round of guidance on the rule which can be found HERE.

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8 Trends That Matter for C-Stores – NACSonlie

April 13, 2018

Thanks NACSonline for another great article.  backOffice Software can help to make these things possible for your c-Store

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8 Trends That Matter for C-Stores

SOI speaker Todd Hale highlights what convenience retailers should be tracking and trying in 2018, and why.
April 13, 2018

​By Greg Lindenberg, CSP Magazine

CHICAGO – “You can’t just sit on the sidelines and watch for growth,” Todd Hale, Nielsen consultant and principal at Cincinnati-based Todd Hale Inc., said in presenting the Tracking Trends That Matter session at the 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit in Chicago this week.

“It’s not just going to happen. You need to invest in growth,” he said.

With more than 39 years of experience in the consumer research industry including 30 years at Nielsen, Hale is a devoted student of consumer shopping behavior, buying and immediate consumption.

Retailers need to be ready to ride the waves of change or get on board for the opportunities they present, he said. Here are some of the top retail trends Hale sees affecting the convenience-store industry in 2018 and beyond:

1. Store Count
“We’re hitting the wall on store expansion,” said Hale.

The drug channel is seeing contraction, and mass merchandisers are seeing a decline in store count related to Kmart store closings. In the supermarket channel, most of the expansion has come from niches, either on the high end—Sprouts, Whole Foods—or low end—Lidl and Aldi.

But 10 of the top 20 chains that have added the most stores in the last 10 years are convenience stores: Couche-Tard, 7-Eleven, Speedway, GPM, Casey’s, Andeavor, Sunoco, Cumberland Farms, Pilot Flying J and QuikTrip. And nine of the top 20 chains that have the most stores are c-stores: 7-Eleven, Couche-Tard, Shell, Speedway, Chevron Texaco, BP, ExxonMobil, Sunoco and Casey’s.

2. Retail Format
But “retail format is no guarantee of success,” Hale said.

Drug stores are suffering from either flat or negative front-of-store sales; they’re driving growth through their prescription drugs.

One opportunity for c-stores is around aging populations, Hale said. “The nice thing about older people is that they shop a lot; they make a lot of trips. What else have we got to do? One channel that has been missing out on opportunities with trips for older people is the drug chains. How many of you have gone from 30 days to 90 days on your prescription refills, either at a store or through mail order? You’re not making trips to drug stores anymore,” he said.

Hale doesn’t see Dollar General’s DGX small urban format as a threat. “While it’s interesting that they’re playing in this space, they’re overall strategy is probably not to add a lot of these just yet. They’re experimenting with that format. I’d be more concerned about the fact that that they’re adding 900 stores” in its traditional format, he said.

Hale said convenience retailers should be more concerned with Target’s small format. It plans to have more than 100 of these hybrid convenience-store-drug-store-mass merchandisers, although most of the locations are more urban or near college campuses, so that threat may be limited too.

“Operating a small format is something that everybody talks about and more and more retail channels are doing, but it’s not easy to do,” said Hale. Ahold and Kroger tried to introduce smaller fresh formats—bfresh and Main & Vine, respectively, and closed them down. Publix plans to open a small-format store focused on organics to compete with Sprouts and Whole Foods. But none of the big supermarkets have really had much success in terms of rolling out a small format to compete with c-stores, he said.

3. The E-Commerce Threat
E-commerce has seen about a $316 billion increase in sales since 2007, Hale said. Total U.S. retail e-commerce sales for fourth-quarter 2017 was $119.08 billion, up 16.9% from the prior year’s $101.88 billion, compared to 14.4% from 2016 to 2017. That’s 9.1% of total retail sales, up from 8.2% from 2016. “Without question, Amazon is delivering the growth,” said Hale.

But he asked, who will fall prey to e-commerce next? Comparing the “tsunami” of store closings against e-commerce growth, it’s clear which kinds of retailers have suffered the most—specialty retailers, consumer electronics, apparel, books and office supplies.

“It would appear that dollar, convenience and gas would be the least likely to be impacted by e-commerce going forward,” Hale said.

4. Store Closings
While c-stores may be the retail channel least affected by e-commerce directly, there are also indirect effects, he said. Store closings in other channels can have a big influence on traffic.

“You need to think about where you are located and what type of store is closing,” he said. “If it’s a big anchor store that you rely on for traffic at particular locations, then you’ve got to think about what are you going to do with those locations that are no longer going to have traffic anymore. The whole notion of managing store closings has to be top priority in your mind in a world like this, because you’re going to see traffic patterns really change, and you’re going to see sales in some of your stores take a dive just because you’re not getting the same people driving by as they were before.”

5. Modifying the Box Experience
Hale talked about some of the “mind-boggling” things retailers are doing to “modify the box experience” to try to compete with e-commerce. There’s a lot going on to try to enhance the in-store experience:

  • Tiffany’s is offering actual Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the iconic film.
  • Sak’s opened a wellness spa with fitness classes.
  • American Eagle is offering free laundry facilities.
  • Urban Outfitters is selling pizza.
  • Walmart is hosting holiday parties.
  • Hy-Vee and Kroger are investing in restaurants and food courts.
  • Gelson’s is opening in in alcohol, beer and wine bars.

Hale cited a Wall Street Journal report about consumers “finding love in the frozen-food aisle” as grocery stores become more of a place where people can meet to socialize.

“Think about what’s being invested by these grocery chains to make sure that people have a reason to come to a store, not just to shop, but to socialize,” he said. “How can you take advantage of that in terms of how your formats are evolving? Is there something else you can do either to train your people to be more interactive with shoppers, or do something different in your store to make it so that people do want to come to your store regardless of whether they need gas?”

6. Females Driving Trips
C-stores have always had the lead in terms of more men shop in c-stores than any other channel. But that is changing, said Hale. Women are now almost 50% of the trips to c-stores, still lower than other channels, but is may be an opportunity for c-stores to invest in formats that might attract females.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see 7-Eleven investing in a private-label line of cosmetics,” he said. “It’s a category that’s really important to women. It’s a category that’s really important to drug stores, and so is there an opportunity for you to think about how you might tweak your assortment depending on how close you might be to Rite Aid store that’s going to close down—600 Rite Aid stores are going to close down in the next 18 months, so there’s an opportunity if you’re around those stores to think about how you recapture some of those trips that are going to be lost to them.”

7. Door to Car, Door to Door, Door to Fridge
Amazon may not be a big worry for c-stores as much as competitive foodservice retailers like McDonald’s, Taco Bell or KFC if they are going to be offering online ordering and delivery direct to consumers, according to Hale.

“A real race that you have to be concerned with is this whole new move from door to car to door to door to inside a home or inside a fridge,” he said. “Amazon is testing ways to get right inside your home and deliver products with its Amazon Key. Walmart is testing the fact that you can order online and have somebody get into your home and put products away in your refrigerator.”

Both are opening or expanding grocery pickup sites, and small grocers are also experimenting with online ordering and pickup. And grocery delivery services such as instacart and Shipt are catching on.

And today, while it’s still very much a niche business, there is also now an abundance of meal-kit options such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and plated. Amazon Go sells Amazon Meal Kits. Hale is not so bullish that these are going to be a big deal, at least for c-stores, because about a quarter of the people who buy these meal kits are gourmet cooks—not a big convenience channel demographic.

More concerning to him is home delivery of meals by the likes of Grubhub and UberEats. A “big battle” is coming now with fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell investing in this $100 billion delivery market. There’s a lot of activity going on in this space, said Hale.

8. Strange Bedfellows
“We’re in a whole new game when it comes to merger and acquisition activity today,” said Hale. This activity is going to change the way retail works. He calls it “strange bedfellows.”

“Who would have thought that Target would have bought Shipt. Who would have thought that Campbell’s Soup would have bought a snack company, Snyder’s-Lance,” he said. “The fact that Albertson’s merges with Rite Aid. You’ve got CVS and Walmart talking with health insurance companies to create new complete business models.”

Hale said c-store retailers need to think about getting into and acquiring new businesses that may not have anything to do with c-stores, or that can complement existing c-store formats.

Greg Lindenberg is Editor, CSP Magazine and CSP Daily News. 

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Retailers Will No Longer Require Customer Signatures for Credit Card Purchases

April 10, 2018

The times have changed:

Walmart, Target Kill Card Signatures

Retailers say they will stop the “worthless practice” of requiring customer signatures for card purchases.
April 10, 2018

​NEW YORK – Business Insider reports that Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are no longer requiring customers to sign receipts for card purchases at the point of sale.

NACS Daily reported last week that as of this month, all major credit card companies will no longer ask for signatures for transactions made with EMV chip cards, a change that has been coming slowly since the additional security has been added to credit and debit cards in the United States.

Although retailers have the option to continue the practice of requiring a customer signature, two large retailers are stopping the practice. The New York Times writes: “Target plans to eliminate them this month. Walmart considers signatures ‘worthless’ and has already stopped recording them on most transactions, according to Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman. It will soon get rid of them completely.”

Linda Kirkpatrick, Mastercard’s head of business development in the United States, told the NY Times that the signature for card purchases “has really outrun its useful life.”

The news source continues that card networks are sending a message that signatures have become obsolete. “I think they’re done,” Mark Horwedel, CEO of the Merchant Advisory Group, commented, adding that he expects three-quarters of his group’s members (large retailers) will have stopped asking customers to sign their names on credit card receipts by the end of the year. Speeding up checkout lines is a powerful incentive, he said.

Some retailers cite transaction time as a reason for ditching the signature. Shayna Ferullo, owner of the Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters in Brewster, Mass., told the NY Times that pausing for signatures noticeably slows down service during rush hour. “Any extra second is valuable,” she said. “And everyone knows the signature is a joke. No one really signs anymore; it’s all scribbles and squiggles. Some people do smiley faces.”

NACSonline


For all of your Back Office, Point of Sale and Scan Data needs – give us a call.  Insight Retail Software is your one-stop-shop.  Insight Retail Software website has tons of information – or you can give us a call at: 518 633 4112.

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How can C-Stores help to solve childhood hunger?

March 14, 2018

Thank you NacsOnline for this article.

Partnering to Solve Childhood Hunger

This week’s Convenience Matters podcast shares how convenience stores can have a role in helping to feed hungry kids.
March 14, 2018

​ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Convenience Stores Can Help Solve Childhood Hunger,” NACS hosts Jeff Lenard and Carolyn Schnare talk with Share Our Strength about the important role convenience stores can play in ending childhood hunger.

The statistics are heartbreaking:

One in six kids in America—

some 13 million children—

will face hunger this year.

Share Our Strength, an national anti-hunger organization, created its No Kid Hungry campaign to address that issue by working with convenience stores, restaurants and other vendors.

“Because they’re hungry, it’s impeding their learning, it’s getting in the way of them realizing their dreams,” said Clay Dunn, chief communications officer for Share Our Strength. “We as a country have plenty of food and resources to be able to feed every child and we even have programs put in place that are designed to do that, but too often those programs are failing the kids that they’re meant to serve.”

Part of the reason kids aren’t connecting with programs that have food available for them is quite simple—families aren’t aware of the program or they can’t access or get to the food distribution location. “We really look at it as access and awareness,” said Jill Davis, senior vice president of corporate partnerships for Share Our Strength. “We’re convinced that it’s a solvable problem.”

One way convenience stores can help solve the awareness and access problem is through Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry. When restaurants and retailers with foodservice sign up to participate in the initiative, Share Our Strength provides assistance to make the program successful for both the retailer’s bottom line and in helping to feed children. “We can create customized programming for that retailer …that solves your business objectives at the same time,” Davis said.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. The weekly podcast can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded by listeners more than 39,000 times in more than 95 countries.

Read full article here

 #doBetter
No child should be hungry.
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Attn Retailers Selling Tobacco & Vaping Products!

March 12, 2018

Insight Retail Software has customers in all 50 States so please take a moment to read this article from NACS.


FDA Compliance Materials May Put Retailers at Risk

Although the FDA says the minimum age to sell tobacco and vaping products is 18, it may be different for certain states.
March 12, 2018

​ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Retailers in certain states and localities where the tobacco/e-vapor minimum-age state or local laws are 19 or 21 years old may be exposed to violations of state and FDA regulations if they use FDA’s free kit of “This is Our Watch” materials. These kits were first distributed in November 2017 and on an on-going basis.

NACS has confirmed with the FDA, and the We Card Program has confirmed with individual retailers, that the FDA sent its materials focused only on the 18-year minimum age, including a calendar to calculate carded customer’s ages, to retailers in states and localities where the minimum age is higher than 18 years old. Retailers in the seven states using the FDA’s 18-year materials will be exposed to making illegal sales to minors and the possibility of state and/or FDA fines and penalties.

Below are the seven states where retailers may be impacted:

  • 21 year minimum-age states: California, Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey
  • 19 year minimum-age states: Alabama, Alaska, Utah

In addition, more than 230 counties or cities within 17 states have 19 or 21 year minimum-age requirements. See We Card’s listing of locales within states that have minimum-age laws higher than 18 years old.

We Card recommends state associations in affected states take immediate action, including:

  • Inform your retailer members and encourage them to examine what is used in their stores, whether it’s the new FDA 18-yearr materials or any other materials, and make sure they have what is appropriate for their stores located in states/locales where 19 or 21 year minimum-age laws apply.
  • Consider an email alert, website and social media alerts and all available communications outreach to your members.
  • Inform your retail members that We Card has the appropriate minimum-age specific versions (18, 19 or 21 year) of its We Card age calculation tools and signage, available at www.wecard.org.

Informed retailers will have immediately recognized the problem of using FDA’s 18-year materials if 19 or 21 is their state or locality’s minimum age requirement. Others may incorrectly think the federal government’s 18-year materials focus overrules their state/locality’s higher minimum-age requirement while some may inadvertently just deploy the FDA materials without checking.

It is incumbent upon the retail community to remain compliant with FDA regulations and state and local law minimum age requirements. With FDA conducting 160,000 compliance inspections annually, combined with additional state and local level enforcement, compliance and preventing illegal sales of age-restricted products remains a priority of retailers.

 

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U.S. Convenience Stores Continue Growth

January 25, 2018

The industry’s core offer of convenience strongly resonates with consumers.

January 25, 2018

​ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 154,958 stores as of December 31, 2017, a 0.3% increase (423 stores) from the year prior, according to the 2018 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

“Our continued store growth suggests that the convenience and fuel retailing industry’s core offer of convenience continues to resonate with customers,” said Chris Rapanick, director of business development at NACS.

“Convenience stores are the destination of choice for the 160 million customers who frequent their community convenience store each day to refresh and refuel, whether it’s to grab a quick snack and a beverage, or a fresh-prepared meal.”

The convenience store count is significantly higher than other channels of trade, accounting for more than one third (34.4%) of the brick-and-mortar retail universe tracked by Nielsen in the United States. Except for the dollar store channel, all other major channels have fewer units at year-end 2017 than 2016:

​Channel ​2016 ​2017 ​Unit Change ​% Change
Convenience Store​ ​154,535 ​154,958 ​423 ​0.3%
​Drug ​43,636 ​43,169 ​(467) ​-1.07%
​Supermarket ​51,191 ​51,134 ​(57) ​-0.11%
​Dollar ​28,832 ​30,332 ​1,500 ​5.20%

“Convenience stores saw solid growth in 2017 due to an increased focus on innovation, improved customer experience, assortment variation and healthy investments in food services,” said Jeanne Danubio, EVP retail for lead markets at Nielsen. “All of these factors have enabled convenience stores to meet the needs of consumers, stretching far beyond the pump. This shift must continue to further expand c-store’s relevance in today’s changing retail landscape. As more retailers across channels try to cater to convenience seeking consumers, c-stores will need to continue to innovate and evolve and grow to stay ahead of the curve.”

Single-store operators within the convenience retail space also increased by 139 units (0.14%), up from 97,504 stores at year-end 2016 to 97,643 stores at year-end 2017.

Overall, 79.1% of convenience stores (122,552) sell motor fuels, a decrease of 1.0% (or 1,255 stores) from 2016, with the single-store motor fuel segment dropping by 1,025 stores. The decline in the number of convenience stores selling fuel is reflective of retailers evolving their business models to focus more on the in-store, foodservice offer, as well as retailers embracing new store formats and establishing their brands in more urban, walk-up locations.

Among the states, Texas continues to lead in store count at 15,813 stores, or more than one in 10 stores in the country. California is second at 11,946 stores, followed by Florida (9,891), New York (8,725), Georgia (6,687), North Carolina (6,235), Ohio (5,686), Michigan (4,962), Pennsylvania (4, 855) and Illinois (4,759). The bottom three states in terms of store count are Alaska (217 stores), Wyoming (355) and Delaware (344).

The U.S. convenience store count has increased by 55% over the last three decades: At year-end 1987, the convenience store count was 100,200 stores, at year-end 1997 the store count was 108,800 stores and at year-end 2007 the store count was 146,294 stores.

NACS Article – Click here


Thanks @NACSonline for another great article.

And to the 423 new stores – call Insight Retail Software for your backOffice and scan data needs! We are the premiere provider for Scan Data Services!

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Convenience Store Retailers Cite Top Trends for 2018

January 10, 2018

NACS gives us their predictions for 2018. The great news is that backOffice Software™ from Insight Retail Software can handle everything that comes your way in 2018.  INCLUDING YOUR SCAN DATA SERVICE!


From Nacs:  ​ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Growth in healthy food and beverages sales led to positive overall sales at convenience stores in 2017, and retailers expect the momentum to continue in 2018, according to a survey of retailers released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

More than two in three convenience retailers (69%) said that foodservice sales increased last year, and 61% said that sales of better-for-you items (i.e., fruits/vegetables, yogurt, nuts, health bars) experienced sales gains. By comparison, only 7% said that foodservice sales were down and only 3% said that sales of better-for-you items decreased.

“Customers are demanding higher quality foods and snacks” at Chestnut Petroleum stores (New Paltz, NY), according to Mickey Jamal. Sales of healthy food and drinks were strong in 2017 at Arroyo Grande Valero (Atascadero, CA). Protein bars and fruit and protein smoothies propelled sales at A-Square Enterprises Inc. (Conyers, GA), and water—whether plain, flavored or coconut water—grew sales at Select Fuel & Convenience (Red Bud, IL).

Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States and retailers also said sales were strong at the pump: Most retailers (52%) said that fuel sales increased in 2017, compared to 20% who reported a decline in gallons sold.

Trends for 2018
Retailers also predicted emerging trends for 2018. Kombucha drinks will continue to grow, as will new programs for home delivery, according to Lisa Dell’Alba at Square One Markets (Bethlehem, PA). New payment methods also will be a top trend, said Kent Frieling at Stop ’n Save (Grand Junction, CO). And healthier meal replacements won’t just be a big trend in 2018—they will also be on his menu, complimenting a robust growler fill program, said Kent Couch at Stop & Go Mini Mart (Bend, OR).

Also, retailers said that the lunch daypart has the most potential to grow sales at their stores, with 67% identifying lunchtime traffic as their biggest opportunity. But other dayparts also hold promise, including the opportunity to grow sales of mid-day snacks, noted Stephen Lair with Petromark Inc. (Harrison, AR).

“People love food inside a convenience store. It’s a one-stop shop for them,”

said Parvez Himani at Priya Impex Inc. (Alpharetta, GA).

Strong Optimism for 2018
Beyond products, retailers say that strong consumer optimism over economic prospects, identified in the monthly NACS Consumer Surveys, also helped grow sales in 2017.

“There seems to be a direct correlation between our customers’ view of the economy and their use of disposable income in our marketplace,” said Dennis McCartney of Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, PA).

Strong consumer optimism also translated into strong retailer optimism. More than three in four (77%) retailers are optimistic about their business prospects for the first three months of 2018, with the same percentage of retailers optimistic about the overall U.S. economy for the first quarter.

Some Concerns Loom in 2018
Competition for the convenience store customer is the top concern of retailers heading into 2018, with nearly half (46%) saying that they expect to continue competing with other channels and other convenience and fuel retailers (45%).

Labor is another major concern, cited by 45% of retailers, such as finding and recruiting top talent in the market. To address the issue, retailers say that are recruiting employees from non-traditional labor pools including retirees, disabled workers and military veterans.

“For the right kind of person, it is a fun job. Interacting with customers is enjoyable as our business attracts a lot of repeat customers whom they see every day,”

said John Clark with Alpine Mart (Stowe, VT).

Regulation and legislation that could potentially harm their operations is also a concern, cited by 42% of retailers, especially those doing business in California.

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their businesses, the industry and the economy. A total of 103 member companies participated in the December 2017 survey.

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