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


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PROPOSED SNAP RULE COULD MAKE C-STORES INELIGIBLE

March 10, 2016

NACS reaches out to Capitol Hill to protest changes around definition of staple foods.

March 10, 2016

​ALEXANDRIA, Va. – This week NACS told policymakers about industry concerns with a proposed rule published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that includes problematic new eligibility standards for retailers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The proposed [SNAP] rule would make tens of thousands of small businesses ineligible to participate in the Program. Small businesses will be harmed and SNAP beneficiaries, who rely on these small stores in both urban and rural environments, will lose options they need to feed their families,” wrote NACS in a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, and the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.

As previously reported by NACS, on February 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) published a proposed rule altering eligibility requirements for retailers participating in SNAP. While the proposal codifies the 2014 Farm Bill provisions, which NACS supported, it also makes other changes to retailer eligibility requirements that Congress never intended to address in the 2014 Farm Bill. The proposal would impede neighborhood retailers’ ability to participate in the program, which in turn would hinder food accessibility for SNAP recipients that use their benefits at these small format retail locations.

“It appears that FNS is trying to push small retailers out of the SNAP program altogether, for no sound public policy reason,” NACS wrote to Congress, adding that Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Undersecretary Kevin Concannon recently testified before the House Appropriations Committee that there are more small stores participating in SNAP “than we really need.”

The USDA’s SNAP proposal codifies the 2014 Farm Bill “depth of stock” provisions, which require retailers to stock 7 varieties of products in each of the four “staple food” categories. Problematically, the proposal also includes several changes that were neither required nor envisioned by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The proposal redefines the term “staple foods” and limits the items that may count as staple foods for depth of stock determinations. Under the proposal, multiple ingredient items (e.g. soups or frozen dinners) would not count towards depth of stock requirements. The proposal also expands the definition of “accessory foods” to include foods consumed between meals, like snacks (e.g. hummus and pretzel packs).

Because accessory and multiple ingredient foods may not be counted as staple foods for depth of stock determinations—the proposal essentially narrows the universe of acceptable foods that a retailer can stock to participate in SNAP, ultimately raising the stocking numbers beyond the numbers established by Congress.

Next week in Washington during the NACS Government Relations Conference, industry stakeholders will be communicating to members of Congress and their staffs that convenience stores play a fundamental role in SNAP, particularly for low-income Americans who live in rural or urban environments. By making it increasingly difficult for small format retailers to participate in SNAP, the proposal would essentially punish SNAP beneficiaries by requiring them to travel outside of their local neighborhoods where larger format retailers may not exist.

A memorandum analyzing the proposal is available online exclusively for NACS members.


Independent Grocers Taking Aim at C-stores

March 4, 2016

NGA Show session highlights how three grocers are going after convenience.

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March 1, 2016, 03:07 pm By Joan Driggs, Stagnito Business Information

LAS VEGAS — Independent grocers have convenience stores on their radar.

An educational session at this week’s The 2016 NGA Show, hosted by the National Grocers Association (NGA), discussed the need for independent grocers to compete against convenience stores and provided some key takeaways on how to successfully do so.

Panelists representing leading independent grocers such as Niemann Foods, Buche Foods and Docs Food Stores pointed out that convenience stores are continually upping their food retailing game with more grab-and-go and fresh prepared items. Independent grocers need to stay competitive to remain the go-to destination for shoppers, whether they’re on a weekly fill-up trip or a quick stop on their way from work.

Nine-store chain Docs Food Stores, based in Bixby, Okla., has moved many convenience items to the front of its stores, including beverages and quick meals, according to speaker Courtney Brown, vice president and chief operating officer. The chain also added an express register to help customers make a quick purchase, he shared.

Additionally, Docs takes advantage of low-priced meal deals from its hot bar and utilizes outdoor seasonal displays — such as a farm-stand truck — to communicate that its stores have more to offer than traditional convenience stores.

Brown stressed that having enough staffing is critical because customers don’t want to wait in line ever, but especially when they’re on a quick trip, it could be a deal breaker.

RF Buche, president of Buche Foods, a South Dakota chain of grocery and convenience stores (some of which offer fuel) told NGA Show attendees that rethinking your basic grocery retail strategies is key to success. Appealing to convenience shoppers means putting yourself in their shoes — not just in terms of what assortment might appeal, but also the experience.

Clean bathrooms are not to be underestimated, he noted. Buche Foods brags that it cleans its restrooms seven times a day. The company has even hosted manager bathroom-decorating contests.

Niemann Foods, based in Quincy, Ill., has about 100 stores under its umbrella, including grocery, convenience, hardware and pet stores. Rich Niemann III, director of convenience operations, discussed the company’s recent evolution in its convenience business.

The company underwent an evaluation about five years ago to determine the best place to invest and reinvent. The result is Harvest Market, two convenience stores with a focus on fresh prepared foods.

Harvest Market features sandwiches, soups and other fresh items prepared daily; hot and cold fountain beverages; and self-serve Sweet Berry frozen yogurt and toppings.

Like Buche Foods, Harvest Market makes use of its fuel operations to drive customers into the store. “Consider that 60-70 percent of fuel customers might not go inside,” Niemann said.

The company makes use of extensive advertising at the fuel pumps to promote meal deals and other items that are typically not available at convenience stores. “Fresh really sets the tone,” he said, and helps the company bounce its convenience shoppers to grocery shoppers.

The 2016 NGA Show is taking place Feb. 28 through March 2 at Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel & Casino. The annual event brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/consumer packaged goods manufacturers, and service providers for opportunities to learn, engage, share, network and innovate.

The National Grocers Association is the only industry association devoted exclusively to the needs of independent grocers.

By Joan Driggs, Stagnito Business Information
  • About Joan DriggsJoan Driggs is Editorial Director of Progressive Grocer and Progressive Grocer Independent. She has more than 25 years of experience in trade journalism and market research. Joan enjoys connecting with CPG manufacturers and grocery retailers, and learning how they connect for the benefit of consumers. Her roots are in new product development and she continues to seek out the latest in greatest at grocery retail. To connect with Joan, email jdriggs@stagnitomail.com, or reach out on Twitter, @JoanPGrocer.

– See more at: http://www.csnews.com/industry-news-and-trends/competitive-watch/independent-grocers-taking-aim-c-stores?cc=3#sthash.QglNprIZ.9oqakXrR.dpuf


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September 18, 2012

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