Juices and teas: Fruit Drinks Flat, Teas Growing

Information Resources Inc. (IRI) reported that the total count for the sparkling juice category is $78 million and rising. Even so, it’s a bit difficult to tell how much traction the average c-store retailer can get from them given the huge number of beverage choices available in this category today. Other than specialty sparkling beverages

Bottled Water: New Water Pours Forth

Conventional wisdom says the bottled water market is flooded, but that may not be the case at the high end, according to Beverage Marketing, which reports that high-end brands like Iceland Spring and Iceland Glacial, Voss and Isbre appear eager to parlay an exotic source and upscale packaging into an above-premium business, much as Fiji

Carbonated Soft Drinks: Strong, But Losing Ground

Most carbonated soft drink companies found 2007 a good year, but not because of CSD sales in the U.S. Increases in carbonated beverage sales outside North America plus profits from their non-carbonated acquisitions are keeping Coke and Pepsi strong, despite the introduction of new products such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Max, industry analysts

Alternative Energy (Shots and bars): Buying Energy by the Shot

Make room for the new kid on the block: Energy shots, those concentrated versions of energy drinks that are beginning to mirror the high sales figures of their parent product. Granted, some customers buy energy shots to add to their energy drink in a kind of shot-and-chaser strategy. But for an increasing number of buyers,

Isotonics and Energy Drinks: Isotonics Maintain, Energy Drinks Soar

Isotonics and sports drinks maintain strong sales and will probably continue to do so, given consumers’ growing demands for healthful food and drink that meets the body’s needs following physical activity. Energy-drink purchases, on the other hand, are growing exponentially across the country—leading retailers to keep seeking the best strategies for leveraging the category’s popularity.

General Merchandise: Competition Impacting Novelty

General merchandise rounded out the top 10 in-store categories by gross profit contribution, according to the National Association of Convenience Store’s (NACS) State of the Industry (SOI) report. Finishing 10th, just behind cold dispensed beverages, on a per-store, per-month basis, stores averaged $2,373 in merchandise sales with a gross profit contribution of $873. The bad

GROCERY: Sales Vary Widely

The line between grocery and convenience channels in the U.S. continues to blur, especially with the addition of mega retailers like the UK-based Tesco (Fresh & Easy) and Japan’s FamilyMart (Famima). Though neither of these retailers sell gas, both consider themselves members of the c-store channel in growing, upscale markets, such as Los Angeles, Phoenix

Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Competition Impacts HBC Sales

After buying a soda, milk, apple juice, a loaf of bread, paper plates, dishwashing detergent and a bagel, the typical c-store customer might—and that’s a big might—purchase a bottle of aspirin. Make no mistake about it: Health and beauty care in c-stores is akin to an unruly stepchild when it comes to in-store categories. Up

Prepaid: Targeting Niche Segments

According to figures from Mercator Advisory Group, the prepaid market isn’t big—it’s huge, and growing exponentially every year. Mercator’s debit advisory head Tim Sloane said that closed loop prepaid cards grew at a rate of 88% year over year from 2002 through 2006. Sloane predicts that when the 2007 figures are analyzed, they’ll show another

Dairy, ice cream and frozen foods: Dairy Leads Private Label Herd

Consumers grabbed a single-serve milk more than one billion times last year, according to Dairy Management Inc.’s CEO Tom Gallagher, who expects the number of quick-serve establishments promoting milk to exceed 50,000 in 2008. Dairy products lead retail sales of private label products, which Packaged Facts forecasts will grow at an annual rate of 5%

Salty And Meat Snacks: Healthy Trend in Snacks Sales

Like other retail channels, the convenience store industry is witnessing a change in consumers’ snack choices. "We’re definitely seeing a shift to healthier snacks, but I think it’s a little slower than some of the other channels just because our customer base is still predominantly younger males who aren’t as much into healthier eating as

Candy, gum and mints: Candy Continues to be Dominant

The U.S. retail confectionery category generated approximately $29 billion in sales in 2007 and the profit margin for the category was approximately 35%, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) U.S. Confectionery Market report. Convenience stores accounted for 15%, or $4.5 billion, of overall candy sales in 2007, surpassing drug stores and dollar stores, but

Other Tobacco products: OTP On The Rise

A surefire marketing strategy: Develop a need where consumers don’t even know they have one. The flipside: Wait until a need becomes so apparent, so prevalent and so overwhelming that it can no longer be justifiably ignored as a legitimate need. A pocketful of lawsuits and a barrage of tax increases in its portfolio, and

Cigarettes: Taxation Taking a Toll

Cigarettes by far continue to be the top in-store category based on sales dollars. On a monthly basis, the industry per store average for 2007 was $39,127. However, its gross profit contribution slipped to 3.2% to $6,152 falling behind package beverages ($6,526.) The reason tobacco fell to No. 2 is simply taxation. Since 2002, 43

Cold & Frozen dispensed beverages: Mixing it Up in Cold Dispensed

Average per-store sales of cold dispensed beverages experienced modest gains that shouldn’t give retailers pause when they manage this category, as leading c-store chains are showing that big profits can spurt from some tiny fountain heads. Ricker’s c-stores, for instance, a 30-store chain headquartered in Anderson, Ind., has shaped much of its identity on its

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

DELI, BAKERY AND PREPARED FOODS: Fresh Remains Key For Customers

The tendency for Americans to want more fresh and fresh prepared food is clearly growing, which is why traditional U.S. convenience stores have been joined by overseas chains like Tesco and Famima. "I think the lifestyle is really changing here," said Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of Famima Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Japan’s FamilyMart

Chicken: Poultry in Motion with Chicken in Top Spot

One of the most versatile and marketable products in retail foodservice has also become the No. 1 convenience item consumers are choosing in their quest for meat and poultry products. A recent study by the National Chicken Council (NCC) shows that U.S. consumers consider chicken to be the most widely available convenience food product, as

Pizza: Old Tastes Trump New Trends

It seems the future of pizza hinges on just how far retailers are willing to stray from the confines of that traditional pizza box. "If you get too far outside the box, you’ll probably sell less pizza," said Neal Hollingsworth, vice president of marketing at Hot Stuff Pizza. And if you stay cloistered within the

Branded Food: Fast Brands Build Business

Branded fast foods are major league players in today’s convenience channel. Indeed, the 45 chains recently surveyed by Convenience Store Decisions rang up some $380 million in branded foodservice sales last year. A pretty impressive figure, and one that is likely to make any c-store owner’s mouth water at the mere thought of adding a

Technology: Plural Platforms Top Priority

Today’s c-store retailers want technology platforms that will allow them to manage fuel brands, foodservice operations, remain PCI compliant, easily access data and help improve customer service simultaneously. Sound like a tall order? It’s really not, said Jenny Bullard, chief information officer of the Jones Co., which owns 177 Flash Foods stores in Georgia and

Security and operations: Security and operations: Security and operations: Operating Costs Rise Across the Board

The cost of operating a convenience store is up significantly thanks in part to a number of factors, the most glaring being interchange fees and credit card costs. But labor and utilities also experience significantly higher year-on-year gains. The industry’s operating expenses on a per-store, per-month basis rose across the board in 2007, according to

Car Wash and Motor Fuels: Fueling Frustration

Fuel price volatility is here to stay. Marketers must learn how to manage it to their advantage. That was the cold, hard message conveyed in the 2008 NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. Marketers are urged to pay attention to sales volumes, but also focus on gross margin dollars and to always look at

The Competition: Discretionary Spending Looms Large

For the past decade, the list of retailers that have cut into the convenience store industry’s consumer base has included the usual suspects: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreens and a slew of other national brands in a smattering of channels. C-stores are predictably pitted against those same powerhouses in 2008, but the environment is far more

The Customer: Wine Appetites and Beer Wallets

The 2008 consumer, complex and roiling in its many needstates, has become a multi-headed hydra whose rituals and habits are being altered by external forces. It is, however, a creature predictable on at least one front: It always appreciates the convenience and value of the neighborhood c-store. Pinched by rising costs of fuel, food and

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