CIGARS

Serving Cigar Smokers

Little cigars are gaining a loyal following with older demographics based on affordability. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Consumption of little cigars, which have lower taxes and fewer marketing restrictions than cigarettes, has increased dramatically over the past three years. And while convenience store retailers can apply the usual merchandising techniques to them, an in-depth

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Proving Profitable with Adult Beverages

Squeezable pouches, which have been the preferred packaging on children’s products for many years, are emerging as a big hit for alcohol marketers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Retail dollar sales of alcoholic beverages in pouches were only $12 million for the 12-month period ending August 2010, according to Nielsen. For the same period ending

HOTDOG

Ethnic Foods Push Roller Grill Sales

Roller grills, the backbone of many convenience store foodservice programs, continue to provide chains with an inexpensive, labor-friendly foodservice concept that allows store operators to expand their fresh food offering. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Discussions about trendy ethnic roller grill items require participants to learn a number of words in Spanish. Now, as retailers

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Controlling Fuel Volatility

With gasoline prices again soaring, convenience store and petroleum retailers are investing in software solutions that can help them manage the business more effectively. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Convenience store operators are feeling the pinch from skyrocketing gas prices, which makes fuel inventory controls even more critical in helping retailers reduce costs and bolster

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Shifting Smokers Spur Category Evolution

As more cigarette buyers switch to smokeless and electronic tobacco products, convenience store retailers juggle SKUs to drive profit.    By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Traditional cigarettes—once the mighty margin maker for retailers—continue to face a rocky road as the tobacco market shifts toward increasing consumer interest in moist smokeless, flavored cigars and electronic cigarettes.

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Integrating New PCI Standards

Point-of-sale attacks at merchant locations have highlighted weaknesses in POS systems integration. Most of these attacks can be traced back to remote-access portals that were inadequately secured. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. More than a few c-store operators grow anxious at the mention of anything to do with PCI compliance, and who can blame them.

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Opportunities Abound in Candy

Despite the continued economic doldrums, U.S. confectionery sales have grown at a pace of 4.2% annually. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Keeping shelves full of customers’ favorite candy, gum and mint brands may seem like an obvious practice for convenience store category mangers. However, controlling out-of-stocks continues to be the top challenge for c-stores managing

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

cigars

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

JETZ

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,

snacks

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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