HBC-General-Merchandise

Adding a Spark to Tobacco Sales

Customized and novelty lighters offer customers an opportunity to express themselves. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. In simpler times, lighters were used chiefly as a means to an end—lighting up a cigarette, birthday candles or even restarting an oven. Today, however, with the growth of the tobacco accessories category, lighters have become an end in

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Cultivating Loyal C-Store Customers

An effective rewards program can drive new business and increase the average ticket ring with existing customers. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. There was a time when loyalty programs were tools used by large chains to reward customers for their daily business. But the times have changed. Convenience store operators of all sizes are now

Smokeless

Seizing Control of Smokeless Sales

Convenience store retailers are still concerned over the FDA’s involvement in smokeless tobacco, but many expressed optimism that the category can continue to thrive. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. While taxes and regulations haven’t impacted sales of smokeless tobacco products as much as some had predicted, it remains up to retailers to continue aggressively marketing

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Developing a Menu for All Customers

The flexibility of chicken as a menu item allows convenience store operators to develop profitable branded and proprietary programs without sacrificing quality or value.    By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Whether it’s sandwiches, tenders, wings, fried, breaded or sliced, customers have affordable options which can offer them a new experience during each trip to the

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Capitalizing on Coffee Trends

Hot beverages anchor the industry’s foodservice offering, but the category is also a top in-store destination and among the most profitable.   By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Numbers don’t lie–and when it comes to consumers and coffee, they show a category poised for even greater growth in the months ahead.Coffee consumption among consumers aged 18-29

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Beefing Up Snack Sales

The prevalence of meat snacks has grown a great deal in recent years as the market has expanded with innovative flavors and new varieties. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The meat snacks category, which many Americans consider all but synonymous with convenience stores, continues to build sales as well as prestige. New and exotic flavors

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Revitalized Roller Grill Sales

Hot dogs and tornados continue to provide chains with inexpensive, labor-friendly meal solutions that allow store operators to expand their fresh food offering. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. One of the most maligned pieces of equipment in all of foodservice—the roller grill—remains the backbone of many convenience store foodservice programs, offering an inexpensive, labor-friendly way

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Choosing the Perfect Pizza Program

Whether going with a branded option or developing a proprietary menu, pizza appeals to a wide variety of pallets.     By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Everybody loves pizza, but which pizza? And what will it take to get it to your customers? These are the kinds of questions convenience store operators need to ask themselves

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Securing the Convenience Store

Effective cash management solutions can be networked and integrated into existing POS systems to provide remote cash monitoring, further enabling a safer retail environment. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Retail success doesn’t just mean keeping money coming in, but preventing money from going out. And while normal business expenses are inevitable, theft is not. Being

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Effective Visual Merchandising

By using creative store displays, retailers are making a certain connection with potential customers, one that is long lasting and makes them more apt to make a purchase. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Are you showing your wares as effectively as possible? According to the Convenience Consumer Insights (cci) Panel, the first-of-its-kind mobile research panel

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Driving Snacks Sales

While private label products are improving, quality and value remain critical components for all snacking options. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor “Yes, but…” That’s the all-too-common answer to the question of whether or not price promotions can drive snack sales in convenience stores. Yes, in a lousy economy people look for and respond to savings.

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Smokeless Sales Show Promise

While managing new products and planograms is vital, retailers will need to keep an eye out for federal tax increases and FDA intervention over the next 12 months. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Smokeless tobacco has outperformed expectations for three straight years—which, while good, leaves many in the industry fearing it’s only a matter of

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Strong Demand for Cigars

Flavored and single-serve cigars represent a real opportunity for convenience stores to boost tobacco sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. With flavored cigarettes no longer available in the U.S., flavored cigars are in line for sharp sales gains. But with FDA having declared last year that it’s got the cigar industry in its sights, retailers

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Tobacco Forges an Electronic Transformation

E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, but for convenience stores they are beginning to make a big impact on sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. While electronic cigarettes show promise as a growing tobacco subcategory, two issues are threatening its widespread growth. One is the looming threat of government regulation, which most agree is inevitable,

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Tobacco Sales Rolling Along

As consumers embrace roll your own (RYO) tobacco, retailers are seeing a boost in sales of accessories such as rolling papers, cigarette tubes and rolling machines. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Smokers seeking a safe harbor from cigarette tax increases have made port in the roll your own (RYO) segment. Many have been pleasantly surprised

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Surging Demand for Ethnic Foods

With the growth of specialty restaurants, consumers today are exposed to new foods they may not be used to finding locally, and it’s creating a demand at convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Ethnic offerings are driving foodservice sales at convenience stores hoping to diversify beyond basics like hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches. But

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Building Bottled Water Sales

The cold vault is overrun with new products and traditional favorites. Chains can’t afford to waste cooler space on brands that don’t sell. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Water continues to briskly flow into and out of convenience stores. It’s bottled, it’s branded, it’s often flavored and, increasingly, it’s infused with ingredients that are good

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The Power of Chocolate

Once considered a “guilty pleasure,” chocolate’s potential health benefits are attracting customers. By Howard Riell, Associated Editor. If there is one category that has historically been immune from an economic recession it is chocolate. Despite the difficult times many households have had to endure over the past two years, chocolate is one of those treats

Gum

Expanding Confectionery Sales

Functional and sugar-free gums are predicted to see strong growth through 2014, tapping into the increasing demand for health-oriented products. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Gum manufacturers are giving Americans more healthy options, additional flavors and better packaging, creating an opportunity for category managers to remerchandise the candy aisle to capitalize on this exciting product

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Portability Pushes Hot Food Sales

Convenience store operators that infuse their appetizer menus with “craveable” items can expect to gain additional consumer traffic. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Consumers are trying to cut their dining budgets, in many cases by eliminating starter items. To drive cravings and create interest in appetizers, operators must innovate with exciting dressings and dips, unusual

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Avoiding Cold Vault Cannibalization

With new healthier beverage options becoming available retailers face the task of resetting coolers to maximize sales. By: By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Who would have thought that packaged beverages could cause so many people so much angst? Heightened environmental and health concerns and the spotlight on childhood obesity have been used to cast a

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Staying Focused on Frozen

With margins from tobacco and fuel lagging, frozen beverages have stepped up as a pleasant surprise for retailers—whose goal now is to keep the momentum going. “It’s really a growth category for us, even though it has not been something we’ve spent a lot of time on in the past,” said Jennifer Vespole, senior category

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Raising the Bar on Automotive Accessories

Car care merchandise is delivering incremental sales with the help of private labels and impulse purchases. Customers have long ventured into local convenience stores to grab a bottle of windshield washer fluid or oil for their cars. Years ago, a small display would hold a few bottles of automotive fluids in case of an emergency.

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