Impulse purchases of sodas, Hershey bars and snacks are on the upswing at U.S. convenience stores, a sign the economy and consumer confidence might slowly be turning around, Bloomberg.com reported.
The decline in soda sales at convenience stores slowed last quarter for the first time in at least a year, according to PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, while Hershey’s first-quarter chocolate, mint and gum sales grew about 6% in the channel.
“We’re definitely seeing improving trends,” Dennis Phelps, senior director of beverages for 7-Eleven, told Bloomberg.com.
Sales (excluding cigarettes) at U.S. convenience stores increased 0.5% in March following a 1.3% dip during the previous 52 weeks, noted Consumer Edge Research.
U.S. retail sales as a whole increased 1.6% in March, surprising economists with its biggest gain in four months, according to Commerce Dept. figures. More good news is that the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index hit 57.9 in April, the highest level since September 2008, Bloomberg.com noted.
“We really saw volume in convenience return in a big way,” Hershey CEO David West was quoted as saying. C-stores accounted for 13%, or about $590 million, of the $4.5 billion in U.S. of Hershey sales last year.
C-store retailers also reported seeing more promising sales in packaged beverages. 7-Eleven noted that April was one of the best months it had seen in more than one year.
“There’s no question about it, we’re seeing better sales,” agreed Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesman for QuikTrip. “It’s not as much as we’d like, but they’re still spending.”