Chicken

Poultry Powers Prepared Food Sales

Whether it’s sandwiches, wraps or wings, chicken’s versatility is driving the foodservice category. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Chicken comes about as close as food can to a can’t-miss opportunity for convenience store operators. Chicken’s flexibility—and healthier perception—makes it one of the most popular products in the foodservice industry. And short of handling it unsafely,

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Seizing Control of Smokeless Tobacco

With new flavors, brand extensions and increased promotional activity, MST sales continue to post strong gains at convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The smokeless tobacco category remains strong, and not just because legislators have chased consumers away from cigarettes. New products and flavors combined with competitive pricing, increased promotional activity and effective merchandising

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Fresh Foods, Fast Service

Burgers, brats and sausages continue to drive sales among core convenience store consumers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience dining is on the rise and the demand for sandwiches is jumping. Americans’ love of burgers, sausage and brats is creating plenty of opportunity for convenience stores, where lunch and dinner solutions anchor the menu. The

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Maintaining Strong Cigar Sales

Despite a demand from adult consumers, retailers are continually forced to defend their right to sell flavored cigars responsibly. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor While tobacco has long been a bread-and-butter product for convenience stores, accounting for millions in individual unit sales and boosting the profits from the average smoker’s market basket, it remains a

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Dealing with Dairy

A federal program is threatening milk and ice cream prices, which could impact c-store sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Even with all of the options that packaged goods manufacturers give consumers today—brands, flavors, package sizes, price points, promotions and much more—ice cream has remained a pretty simple retail category. Enter the federal government. In

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Bursting With Energy

The energy shots and drinks market has been on an upward growth trajectory since 2010 and with the improvement in the economy is expected to continue on this growth. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Americans need all the energy they can get their hands on, which goes a long way to explaining the enduring success

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Dispensed Beverage Sales Heating Up

Fueled by new flavors and supported by high-quality equipment, the cold and frozen category shows unlimited potential. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor The cold facts go like this: with margins from tobacco and fuel still lagging headed into the summer of 2012, the booming frozen beverage segment has been a pleasant top-performing surprise for convenience

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Combating C-Store Theft

Typically, convenience stores can experience a few gasoline thefts a week. But when prices increase, some stores see several gas thefts a day. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor When times get hard, thieves get industrious and innovative. The response by convenience store operators must be twofold: extensive background checks on potential employees to weed out

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Seizing Smokeless Opportunities

Convenience store operators are enjoying the growing popularity of smokeless tobacco products, but they are also being forced to keep a wary eye on federal and local regulations. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Is the smokeless tobacco product category, which includes moist snuff, snus and dissolvables, the lifeboat that convenience store retailers hope it will

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Growing Roller Grill Sales

From hot dogs and sausages to ethnic foods like taquitos and egg rolls, roller grills continue to prosper at convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Roller grills—if handled correctly—offer a great opportunity to grow sales. But as simple and relatively labor-free as they are, they still require management oversight, employee training and some marketing savvy. It’s

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Leveling The RYO Playing Field

In recent years, roll-your-own tobacco machines have surfaced at various retail locations putting convenience stores at a competitive disadvantage on price. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor America, and in particular its lawmakers, remains caught in a love-hate relationship with tobacco. That push-pull has resulted in very well-publicized attempts to dissuade Americans from using tobacco, or

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Cultivating Loyal Customers

Savvy c-store operators are using loyalty programs to improve merchandise planning and forecasting to spur long-term growth. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Loyalty programs, when administered well, offer c-store retailers solid benefits—the ability to react to trends quickly, make more informed decisions, improve cost effectiveness and aid in merchandise planning and sales forecasting. “Loyalty programs

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Service to the Fleet

With fuel costs again on the rise, a fleet card network can attract new business while offering fleet managers the safety, security and reporting tools they need to be successful. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Fleet cards are a nice piece of business for c-store operators. But the key to keeping that business growing is

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Cash Isn’t King at Cleveland Car Washes

American Pride has switched from cash-based operations to tokens, and customers are coming back stronger than ever. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Brian Costa operates five American Pride car washes in the Cleveland area. All told, there are 29 self-service bays and six touchless automatics. Until early 2000 each location was quarter-based. Then, when the

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Secure in the Convenience Store

Internet-based surveillance systems are combating shrink and protecting employees. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Increasingly in society, it seems security equals surveillance, especially at retail. Internet-based security systems are part of that trend, helping operators by tracking and recording every transaction and thereby decreasing the amount of thefts by both customers and employees. Even better,

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Salty Snack Sales Surging

Healthier fare is certainly not the only trend in packaged snack foods, but it is by far the most important and widespread one affecting convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Salty snacks and chips is abuzz with activity: new products and line extensions, multi-million-dollar advertising and promotional campaigns and innovative in-store merchandising. When combined

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Building Bottled Water Sales

New products and core beverages will always drive cold vault sales. Retailers have to know how to market them effectively to maximize profitability. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Bottled water sales continue to rise steadily, which is good news for overall packaged beverage sales in convenience stores. NACS reported recently that in the wake of

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Maintaining Compliance with Fuel Tank Standards

Out of sight, out of mind could land convenience store and gas station owners in serious trouble if they neglect their underground storage tanks (USTs) any longer. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. With fines for leaks on the rise, regulations for tank compliance data retention getting longer and reporting frequencies increasing, the time has come

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Boosting Energy Sales

Although some c-store operators admit to being worried about regulators turning their focus toward energy products, many believe the category has at least another year of strong growth ahead. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Sales of energy shots are soaring despite the lingering recession. New products, flavors and marketing messages are making it one of

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The Impact of Restrooms on Food Sales

Poor safety and sanitation practices will turn customers away. Going above and beyond what’s required is the key to a healthy program. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The numbers tell an interesting story: according to a recent research study by Cintas Corp., fully 95% of people avoid patronizing a business in which they have had

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Smokeless Sales Show No Signs of Dipping

Enhancing variety will continue to be a key for this high growth category. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Sales of smokeless tobacco products keep increasing and convenience store operators are enjoying the ride. But keeping that graph line headed north means keeping a wary eye on proposed federal regulations, keeping sets fresh, properly allocating shelf

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Preparing for Future Payment Systems

First it was PCI, now retailers have to prepare for the widespread launch of Near Field Communications, which is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by smartphone in the U.S. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The convenience store industry is increasingly turnings its gaze outdoors to the forecourt, not only for

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Perfecting Pizza

A top-notch pie and artistic appeal help differentiate the offering for this important foodservice segment. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Pizza, a perennial favorite of American culture, is grabbing headlines as some restaurateurs and retailers devise gourmet versions with a variety of innovative toppings and crusts. And while that’s all well and good, c-store shoppers

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Getting Crafty in the Cold Vault

Beer sales are hot right now and driving the push are specialty brews and imports. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Consumer interest in more flavorful food and beverages has led, among other things, to the rise of craft beers. Retailers: Start your engines. Craft beers offer more challenging tastes, authenticity and often even a quirkiness

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Boosting Fresh Food Sales

Americans are more amenable to buying meals at convenience stores, but won’t budge when it comes to quality, price or convenience factors like portability and packaging. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. Takeout food was invented for on-the-go consumers. But a takeout program has to do more than travel at high speeds. Today’s consumers want quality

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