Better-for-you foods produce healthier results for convenience stores
Convenience store retailers are heading into 2020 looking for brighter times ahead following a solid 2019.
A survey of c-store owners by NACS found that 74 percent saw sales increase last year, with only seven percent reporting declines. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed are looking for a strong first quarter in 2020, up four percentage points from last year and a record high, according to NACS.
The industry saw growth in-store with sales of better-for-you products such as health bars, nuts, produce and yogurt gaining in popularity among the channel’s customers.
“The convenience retailing industry is committed to providing better-for-you choices in stores, and the numbers show that consumers are supporting this effort,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Today, it’s almost expected that stores offer fresh and packaged better-for-you choices for customers, and our industry’s commitment to groups like a Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is one of the reasons why.”
The PHA is a non-profit organization created to bring public, private and non-profits together to develop strategies to battle childhood obesity and create a healthier present and future for the nation’s children. NACS was named the group’s partner of the year in 2019.
C-store operators, similar to their foodservice competitors, see breakfast as a key daypart for growing incremental sales. Forty-five percent of those surveyed by NACS see breakfast as their biggest opportunity in 2020. Twenty-six percent said lunch is the biggest opportunity and 23 percent said dinner.
Gasoline continues to be a strong driver of c-store visits with 62 percent of those surveyed reporting that sales at the pump increased in 2019. C-stores sell 80 percent of the fuel purchased in the U.S., according to NACS.
The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks members to gauge their views on their businesses, the industry and the economy. Sixty-eight member companies, representing 2,896 stores, participated in the December 2019 survey.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see the convenience store business headed in 2020 and beyond? What role do you expect better-for-you products and foodservice to play in shaping convenience stores going forward?