The first half of 2020 has really gotten our attention. Lots going on in the world and many changes to our idea of “normal”. However, the United States of America was founded on ideals of freedom, justice, and liberty, and each 4th of July the nation takes a moment to reflect on those ideals and celebrate the country’s independence. This year it will be different but we will still celebrate.
This post was inspired by our team member Melanie Lauramore from Trophy Club, TX where she is the neighborhood captain of their “Trophy Club Stars and Stripes” 4th of July Flag project. Trophy Club Stars and Stripes was introduced to the town in 2011 and has become an annual tradition of residents working together to line the streets of Trophy Club with American flags. Beginning July 2nd, residents and visitors again have the opportunity to experience a display of 35,000-40,000 flags waving throughout the town as they drive, bike, walk, and jog through the streets of Trophy Club. The highly Patriotic sight makes one proud and thankful for sacrifices made by men and women around the world who protect America’s freedoms. This is truly the season “to unite the Town of Trophy Club in the spirit of American Patriotism”. Thanks Melanie for your passion and your part in teaching these important values to your children.
Our InsightRS Team, that is located across the United States, sends our best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday. We want to say thanks to each and every customer, vendor and friend that we work with. We appreciate you all.
Here’s a photo greeting from our team members in Trophy Club, TX – Roanoke, TX – Minden, LA, – Tampa, FL – Augusta, GA – Trenton, SC – Town of Day, NY – Blacklick, OH & London, KY
Great article from CStore Decisions. A bit lengthy but there is some great information here. Nice @Nielson information also.
Rising sales are boosting retailer optimism across the category, but regulatory hurdles loom.
Tobacco sales have proved a bright spot for many convenience stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, but while c-stores anticipate robust tobacco sales for the remainder of 2020, retailers are bracing for the potential chill of regulatory headwinds.
As the pandemic first hit the U.S., many customers began hoarding tobacco products — particularly cartons of cigarettes — ahead of shelter-in-place rules, according to data from the InfoMetrics database managed by consulting services firm Management Science Associates (MSA).
“As the stay-at-home situation has continued, there has been increased consumption of all types of tobacco items with the exception of vape, possibly because consumers are at home and not in locations where there are restrictions on its use,” said Don Burke, senior vice president of MSA.
A poll by consumer intelligence research platform CivicScience found that from April 28 to May 11 — at a time when most areas of the country were still experiencing stay-at-home orders — 31% of cigarette users reported smoking more frequently, and 28% of e-cigarette/vape users reported vaping more frequently. Some 44% of cigarette smokers and 34% of smokeless, e-cig and cigar users reported buying their tobacco product at a c-store most often during the same period.
Research firm IRI’s Convenience All Scan data found smokeless tobacco dollar sales grew 7.8%, with spitless up a whopping 80.6% for the four weeks ending April 19, 2020. Tobacco accessories dollar sales were up 33%, and cigars climbed 13.1%, while cigarettes dropped 2.4%, and e-cigs dipped 1.1% for the same period. Nielsen data showed e-cigs down 8.5% and cigarettes down 5% for the four weeks ending April 25, 2020, but similar upticks in other tobacco products, with cigars up 11.3%, pipe tobacco up 14.1% and “shag” or rolling tobacco up 28%.
Depending on location, c-store retailers are seeing various realities and differing surge/decline timelines when it comes to tobacco sales.
Doug Galli, vice president and general manager for Reid Stores and Crosby’s, said sales of other tobacco products (OTP) including cigars, snuff and e-cigarettes climbed at the company’s 82 c-stores in New York and Pennsylvania, ahead of shelter-in-place rules.
Year over year through April, “cigars are up 7%, e-vape is up 29% and the ZYN/Velo category that was non-existent last year has shown some legs. That category is 50% of the lift over last year,” Galli said. He added that moist snuff was down slightly for the same period.
On Feb. 6, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that c-stores and other retailers can no longer carry display cartridge-based e-cigs or vaping pods in flavors other than menthol and tobacco, but flavored disposable e-cigarettes are still legal.
“The FDA attempted to strike a balance between protecting adult access to flavored vaping products and discouraging youth from vaping,” noted Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association. “Unfortunately, this move has undoubtedly led some adult ex-smokers to relapse and less adult current smokers to attempt to switch over.”
The growth seen at Crosby’s c-stores is “in spite of the (federal) flavor ban in (non-disposable) e-cigs and vape products, along with the addition of the ZYN/Velo products,” Galli added.
The cigarette segment, meanwhile, has been down 10% at Crosby’s c-stores through April, a slump Galli attributed to the purchase age for cigarettes increasing from 18 to 21 on Nov. 1, 2019, in New York state. Shortly thereafter, on Dec. 27, 2019, the FDA officially changed the minimum tobacco purchase age at the federal level from 18 to 21. The new nationwide Tobacco-21 law was effective immediately and applies to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges.
Across the country, Cenex Zip Trip saw a different trajectory at its 36 c-stores in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
“While early March and April saw a small decrease in tobacco sales during the heart of the stay-at-home orders in the states we serve, in the past three weeks, we’ve seen them rise back similar to what we sold during the same time span a year ago,” said Zip Trip Merchandising Manager Jon Fleck.
Montana — where the majority of Zip Trip’s stores are located — is now transitioning into the next phases of loosening stay-at-home restrictions, but during the lockdown, despite decreased customer traffic, the tobacco category held its own, Fleck said.
Fleck noted tobacco companies are offering bigger buydowns and providing them earlier than planned. “With advertising these deals with outdoor signs and matrix reader boards, we have seen some (sales) come back,” Fleck said.
At the end of 2019, a temporary ban on flavored vape products — including menthol — went into effect in the state of Montana. “We did a tremendous business in Montana with flavors prior to the ban,” Fleck said.
The ban on menthol, however, expired in mid-April, and the chain is now bringing in some flavored disposable e-cigs.
Given the Montana flavor ban, Zip Trip has seen a 20% drop in e-cig sales. Although the e-cigs/vaping segment is down significantly because of flavor bans, Fleck noted, “the category is doing well as a ‘comfort product’ along with beer during this pandemic.”
Meanwhile, chew, snuff and cigars are down slightly — “which isn’t bad considering the drop in customer counts (due to the pandemic),” said Fleck. “We categorize tobacco alternatives with these products as well. ZYN, Dryft, etc., have been a pleasant surprise that has picked the overall category up.”
At Zip Trip, tobacco customers are asking for specials, and seeking “the bigger, better deal.” “Similar to beer, cigarettes are comfort products, so while we did a small decrease in business during this time versus the prior year, we attribute most of that to the smoking age increasing to 21 as opposed to COVID-19,” Fleck said.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Irfan Tejani, CEO and president of Tejani Holdings, the parent company of Charge Up c-stores, said COVID-19 had a big impact on tobacco sales.
“Sales were down all across the board by double digits as customers did not know how to react to the entire situation, and then we started to get momentum back,” he said.
Headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas, Charge Up operates 40 c-stores in Texas and Louisiana.
“Louisiana stores specifically had to adapt to operating during a strict lockdown,” Tejani said. Overall, he noted that “despite the ongoing restrictions, the cigarette category remains the highest grosser all across (our stores).”
Smokeless tobacco has been stagnant to growing at Charge Up, depending on the location, while cigarillos are “very strong,” particularly the single sticks, which Tejani noted offer good profit margins. What’s more, he sees cigarillo sales growing — “especially the singles and promo packs like 3-for-1 and 4-for-1 packs,” Tejani said.
Charge Up is also testing the oral nicotine category. Nicotine toothpicks are sold at select stores.
“It’s a special category that doesn’t sell across the board,” he said. “Nicotine gums seem to be doing good where this category is sold.”
Tejani, Fleck and Galli all anticipate strong sales for tobacco for the rest of 2020.
“Tobacco in our New York stores is about to grow. Effective May 18, if your retail location has a pharmacy, you will not be allowed to sell tobacco products,” Galli said. Crosby’s stores in Erie County, N.Y., experienced a lift in their tobacco sales when an identical rule went into effect there around a year ago.
Tejani said he believes the tobacco category will continue to stay strong and consistent over the coming years — unless regulations become even stricter — with e-cigs slowly taking over a bigger portion of the category. Despite ongoing regulations, customer needs drive the market, and customers continue to demand tobacco sales, he pointed out.
“We see tobacco numbers increasing the rest of the year, as many uncertainties lie ahead with COVID-19,” Fleck said. “Once again, for tobacco users, it is a comfort that they rely on during these times.”
One headwind for retailers to watch is potential for tax increases on tobacco products due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is creating serious budget issues that we’re only just now starting to calculate. States that had started to grow accustomed to having large surpluses now have huge deficits that may surpass what states dealt with during the 2009 recession,” Conley pointed out. “As a result, tax increases on all tobacco and nicotine products are absolutely going to be considered in dozens of states over the next year. On the plus side for retailers, budget deficits will make it more difficult for state legislators to justify banning flavored vaping or tobacco products due to the tax revenue and jobs they provide.”
Another is how the premarket tobacco authorization (PMTA) will impact the category.
At press time, the new date when (PMTA) applications are due to the FDA is set for Sept. 9, 2020.
“In theory, this would mean that after the September deadline, only products with pending or approved PMTAs before the FDA can continue to be sold by retailers across the U.S. Those selling JUUL, NJOY, Vuse, blu, etc. have little or nothing to worry about in terms of potential dead stock, but some of the more fly-by-night companies that make disposable vaping products seem likely to exit the market in September,” Conley warned.
For a while, the shelf space for vaping products in c-stores seemed to be increasing by the month, he said. But now that some products are likely exiting the market ahead of the PMTA deadline, “the opposite appears to be occurring.”
Conley believes states will begin to police the market more aggressively than the FDA. “We are going to see attempts at the state level to make selling products without a pending or approved PMTA a crime. Of course, this will not stop the black and gray markets, but will just drive them further underground,” he said.
More to come on this backOffice™ Customer but as the Milk House adds their 4th store they also add creativity to the ever changing market of flavored tobacco products. Where there’s a will…… there’s Derek Medved.
DULUTH, MN– Another business in Duluth has found a workaround when it comes to the city’s restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The Korner Store also known as the Milk House in Gary New Duluth is following the lead of the Holiday Station store on Central Ave. in creating a separate room within the store to sell flavored tobacco products.
This comes after the Duluth City Council approved a rule over a year ago, banning the sale of the products from convenient stores, allowing them to only be purchased in 18-years or older smoke shops.
Owner, Derek Medved says the business has lost a lot of income due to the ban.
“You know I believe that Zach Filipovich, his comments are very well stated. But, I believe that you have the right when you’re eighteen years old to determine what is good or bad for you. And you know gas stations and you know my establishments and everybody across town we have never you know sold to minors and we never plan to. And we will never ever promote it to minors, but you know I believe that it’s a right,” says Medved.
Many councilors voted in favor of the ordinance hoping it would keep these products out of the hands of teens. Others voted against it, saying it unfairly shifted business.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Litter is one of the top reasons consumers oppose having a convenience store or gas station in their communities. According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), every litter stand reduces the littering rate for cigarette butts by 9%. Many smokers say they would properly dispose of their butts if suitable receptacles were available.
As part of a new joint initiative of KAB and Philip Morris USA, for a limited time U.S. convenience stores can request free litter stands to collect cigarette butts. Litter stands will be delivered to retailers with all materials, hardware and guidance needed for installation. Retailers are asked to maintain litter stands by servicing them regularly.
U.S. convenience stores can request one or more free litter stands until September 15. Interested retailers should email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
Name and contact information (phone and email)
Store name and street address of proposed location
Details about where the receptacle(s) will be placed
NACS partnered with Keep America Beautiful in 2017 to produce a free retailer resource
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.
As 2017 comes to a close we take a minute to say thank you to our many loyal customers for your business. We send you best wishes for a happy new year filled with health, happiness, and spectacular success.
The state Department of Agriculture is working on a program to train convenience store personnel on how to spot skimmers at gas pumps.
June 9, 2017
RALEIGH, N.C. – Skimmers at the gas pump is a problem that isn’t going away, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is taking steps to ensure those devices are spotted quickly and removed, WNCN-TV reports. Recently, one North Carolina gas station discovered skimmers installed at the pump four different times in one month.
During its routine inspections of gas pumps, the agency looks for skimmers as part of its checklist. “[Skimming] certainly is a growing problem,” said Stephen Benjamin, director of the N.C. Agriculture Department Standards Division. “It’s a routine part of our inspections now to look for those skimmers.”
But with those inspections only happening annually, the department decided to ramp up efforts to combat skimming in other ways. To do that, the agency has been developing a training program for convenience store employees on how to spot skimmers or suspicious activity around the gas pump. The program will have online photos and reference material for gas station workers.
Obvious signs of tampering include broken security tape or ill-fitting card readers. Benjamin said the training program will teach some of the basic security measures employees can take to combat skimming.
“If they walk around [the pumps] a couple of times a day and inspect [them], that’s an opportunity to take a glance,” and ensure the pumps haven’t been tampered with, he said.
NACS Online has this great article about the changing look of Gas Stations, aka C-Stores. As the look and operations change, Insight Retail Software and backOffice™ Software changes too. Our state of the art reporting keeps you informed of the health and operation of your business. Inventory Control, EDI, Group Price Changes are made simple with backOffice™. Scan Data services are an added bonus. Our customers love to log onto their Altria and RJ Reynolds account and see $$$$. Call to get your free money too.
Call Chris at: 518-633-4111 x 108
WHAT WILL TOMORROW’S GAS STATIONS LOOK LIKE?
Oil companies experiment with mobile apps, delivery and foodservice as analysts predict a future with declining demand for gasoline.Tags: Trends
May 26, 2017
IRVING, Texas – The world’s largest oil companies are tinkering with what makes a gas station, as mobile apps, fuel delivery, alternative fuels and foodservice become more prominent and consumers look for even more convenience, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Analysts like the firm Wood Mackenzie are forecasting softening demand for gasoline as electric cars become more popular and fuel efficiency improves. Automated cars and vehicle sharing also will likely impact the gasoline station industry.
Over the next year and a half, Royal Dutch Shell will play around with adapting fuel stations to provide hydrogen, electric chargers and liquefied natural gas alongside gasoline. BP already has 50 locations with electric chargers globally, while France’s Total SA will put in 300 charging stations throughout Europe and 400 hydrogen pumps in Germany by 2023. Exxon Mobile is working on a new gasoline aimed at more fuel-efficient cars.
While many of these companies jettisoned retail station ownership recently, now some of them are opening new gas stations or revamping current ones with an eye to the emerging alternative fuel markets. For example, BP will open 200 stations in Mexico and as many as 3,500 in India in the coming years. Many of its U.K. stations have Marks & Spencer food locations too. “Fifteen years ago it was just fuel,” said Alex Jensen, vice president for BP’s retail arm in Europe. Today, half of the company’s U.K. customers stop by for food, not fuel.
Shell has a mobile app that lets consumers pay for gas with their phone and might install lockers for online order pickup. The company is also considering a restaurant concept to bolster its convenience food. Shell also began a pilot fuel-delivery service in the Netherlands, where customers can request a Shell fill up delivered to wherever their car is parked, via a company-developed app.
Criminals are migrating from brick-and-mortar retailers to online stores.
February 3, 2017
NEW YORK CITY – With more U.S. retailers adopting credit-card chip technology, thieves have begun to move from brick-and-mortar stores to online retailers, Bloomberg reports. Use of stolen card data to purchase goods via websites, mobile apps or call centers skyrocketed 40% in 2016, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research.
“We are seeing more sophisticated types of fraud moving into the online environment,” said Erika Dietrich, global director of payments risk management at ACI Worldwide. A study released last summer found that one in three consumers worldwide has experienced card fraud.
By the end of 2016, nearly 1.81 million merchants in the United States could accept chip cards, a two-fold rise from 2015, according to Visa Inc. E-commerce retailers and financial firms will shell out $9.2 billion each year in fraud-reduction initiatives by 2020, a 30% jump from current levels, according to Juniper Research.
Worldwide, sales of merchandise purchased online is estimated to hit $27.7 trillion in 2020, up sharply from $22 trillion in 2016, according to eMarketer. This increased online shopping means thieves will have more opportunities to grab financial data or to place orders with stolen information. “Right now the environment is more challenging than it’s ever been,” said Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin. “And things will get worse before they get better.”
Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer, and will continue to receive security updates, compatibility fixes, and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility, and support for the web standards that power today’s websites and services. Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience.
What does this mean?
It means you should take action. After January 12, 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer. Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware, helping to keep users and their data safer. Regular security updates help protect computers from malicious attacks, so upgrading and staying current is important.
Potential risk of using older versions of Internet Explorer:
Without critical browser security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information.
Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA should conduct due diligence to assess whether they are still able to satisfy compliance requirements using unsupported software.
Lack of ISV Support
Many Independent Software Vendors(ISVs) no longer support older versions of Internet Explorer. For example, Office 365 takes advantage of modern web standards and runs best with the latest browser.