car-wash

Car Wash Upgrades on Deck for 2012

Convenience store and petroleum retailers with car washes have faced a challenging 3-4 years in the car wash industry, and as a result have mostly refrained from new development of car wash sites. “We know from our equipment sales reports that there have been low levels of investment, particularly at petroleum c-store car wash sites,”

dispensed

Product Innovation & Marketing Fuel Dispensed Beverages

The cold frozen dispensed category is undergoing some major changes these days with many c-stores adding milkshakes and even energy slushees to their offerings. The additions continue to make the cold and frozen dispensed category one of the hottest in the convenience store industry. Digging down into the category even more, the fourth annual CSD/Balvor

Candy

Sweet Outlook for Candy and Confections

Despite the continued economic doldrums, U.S. confectionery sales have grown at a pace of 4.2% annually and generate $29 billion in total sales, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based research firm. Jenn Elleck, of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), said the biggest misconception about selling candy is that candy sells itself. “Retailers don’t think they need

beers

Beer Bounces Back

It’s always nice when a general statistical look at an industry can be confirmed locally, and that is the case with convenience store beer sales as 2011 closes. The Beer Institute confirms that the convenience channel is one of the most important for beer. The category accounts for 30% of total U.S. industry volume. A

water

Solid Growth Projections for Bottled Water and Sports Drinks

Water continues to briskly flow into and out of convenience stores. The key for retailers is to cut through the clutter and put together the most profitable set possible. Bottled water volume overall grew a little over 4% in 2011, according to preliminary tracking figures from the Beverage Marking Corp. (BMC). The single-serve retail PET

cigarettes

High Expectations for Cigarettes

While there are those who would like to see cigarettes go up in smoke, c-store operators can rest assured that this critical category will continue to be ablaze with activity. “Among the trends I see for 2012 is that there is going to be continued or heightened competition among the second tier brands,” said Bonnie

cash-safe

Staying Safe in the Convenience Store

Handling cash is the bread and butter of convenience store operations, and the latest systems developed to make that process faster and safer do just that. But not all quarters of the industry have been quick to embrace them by any means. For many operators, changes still lie in the future, and time-honored standard practices

hbc

Emerging Opportunities for HBC

Retailers have come to accept that the health and beauty category (HBC) could never compete with tobacco or foodservice in terms of profits or volume, but it serves an important purpose for convenience store customers. For that reason alone, a diverse offering of cold medicines and personal hygiene products should be a staple on convenience

jerky

Strong Year for Meat Snacks

Meat snack manufacturers are targeting new customers with innovative flavors, new packaging and an attractive price point. Leading the charge to meet the changing needs of the consumer is Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, which markets dozens of popular meat snack varieties under the Jack Link’s and MATADOR brands. Overall, meat snack sales soared 10.3% to

iStock_chickenplate

Poultry Booming in C-Stores Despite Supply Concerns

The Washington, DC-based National Chicken Council forecasts that while production of this convenience store menu mainstay will drop by 1.7%, prices will be going up. “This is only the fourth time in five decades that production has gone down,” said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president and chief economist for the National Chicken Council. We are

bakery

Forecasting Bakery Trends

Ready to hear some good economic news? Bakery is one category showing improved sales this year. Supermarket in-store bakery sales reached $10.4 billion for the 52-weeks ended December, 2011, a 2.2% increase over the same period last year, according to the Perishables Group. The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) recently released this data and other in-store

Prepaid1

Prepaid Provides Incremental Sales Opportunities

Mercator Advisory Group’s Prepaid Market Forecast 2011-2014 expects prepaid market growth to slow over the next four years as regulatory and economic issues, as well as saturation in segments including unemployment, impact the market. Open-loop loads are expected to total $281.7 billion in 2013, down $139.4 billion from last year’s forecast of $421.1 billion. “I

coffee cup

Coffee Driving Foodservice Sales

Convenience stores are expanding their brew programs and condiment offerings, allowing guests to customize each cup. Most c-stores have embraced the consumer’s desire for customization by offering broad coffee and condiment selections and stations for customers to prep their cups the way they like. C-stores are improving coffee quality in line with greater demand for

ecigarette

E-Cigarettes Are Here to Stay

Until recently, e-cigs have been sold through traditional tobacco stores that normally expect a keystone or 100% markup on items other than cigarettes. Though it is hard to determine the number of e-cig users in the U.S., the National Vapers Club estimated that about a million people used e-cigs last year, so it certainly is

ENERGYSHOT1

Energy Shot Sales Expect to Grow in 2012

Energy shots showed remarkable growth in 2011 and are on the same meteoric rise that energy drinks experienced four years ago, but they appeal to a different demographic. That was the uplifting news in a 2011 report on energy shots from Chicago-based research firm Mintel International. For example, the largest consumer group of 5-hour Energy,

ENERGYDRINKS

Customers Energized About Energy Drinks

The energy drink market has been on an upward growth trajectory since 2010 and with the improvement in the economy is expected to continue on this positive growth path, according to Chicago-based research firm Mintel International. Energy drink sales were up about 16% in 2011 in convenience stores, as well as up about 16% across

Weigel'sTea

Customers Crave Premium and Value-Priced Teas

As customers seek more healthful beverages options, look for robust tea sales in 2012 and beyond. Packaged Facts projected that the retail tea market is set to grow from approximately 6.6% in 2012 to 8.7% in 2014, reaching $8.3 billion in that year. Tea was up 5.1% in 2011, according to Chicago-based research firm Mintel

POS

Building a Better Back Office

Back-office systems will continue to serve c-store operators better in 2012 and beyond. “The quality of point-of-sale (POS) software that is available now, and at lower prices, is changing the market,” said Rick Yost, operations manager for Dead River Co. in Bangor, Maine. “There are some great products out there moving into the clouds, where

OTP

Navigating OTP’s Legal Battleground

The prospects for OTP throughout 2012 are good, as growth remains strong. But a swelling number of revenue-strapped state legislatures continue to hungrily eye the category. “I think the category will continue to expand,” predicted Matt Hieb, category manager for Gate Petroleum, which operates 225 convenience stores in six Southeastern states.“The growth of the brands

MILK

Milk Starts its Rebound at Retail

Look for a rise in consumer demand for milk, and an increased interest in flavored products in 2012. “We see flavors, particularly chocolate milk, as a key opportunity at convenience stores in 2012,” said Vivien Godfrey, CEO, MilkPEP. “Convenience stores are really over indexed in terms of flavored milk, so of all milk sold in

Hunt_Brothers_Pizza_-_Pepperoni

Pizza Gets Personal

C-store retailers can expect to see continued growth in the pizza category in 2012. “Pizza has good hold times, is a consumer favorite and is relatively easy to prepare. Sales will be up in 2012,” said Tim Powell, director for Chicago-based research firm Technomic. Trends to watch in 2012 include an increase in take-and-bake pizzas,

roller

Turning a Profit at the Roller Grill

One of the most maligned pieces of equipment in all of foodservice—the roller grill—remains the backbone of many c-store foodservice programs, offering an inexpensive, labor-friendly way for   operators to expand their fresh-food offering at a time when other nonfoodservice categories are declining. Roller grill sales are estimated to account for roughly 10-15% of convenience foodservice

chips

New Products, Variety Enhancing Salty Snacks

Salty snack sales are a surging category and retailers should be going along for the ride. “All chip segments have become accepted mainstream food and that’s not going to change in 2012, said Amer Hawatmeh, president of St. George Oil in St. Louis, operator of six Coast to Coast convenience stores. Part of the attraction

sandwiches

Ethnic, Local Themes Among Emerging Deli Trends

International fare and regionally produced ingredients are the hottest trends in deli department foods, according to “What’s in Store 2012,” the recently released annual trends publication of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). Eighty-two percent of consumers enjoy visiting supermarket delis that feature newer and trendier items, regardless of whether they regularly purchase these items. Delis

accessories

Lighting Your Way to Profitability

When sold responsibly, lighters are a dependable source of revenue, even as the number of smokers declines. Lighters are a much-needed tool for the home grill and candles. Another trend helping push lighter sales in c-stores is flavored cigars, which continues to grow at an impressive rate. “Tobacco accessories are alive and well, evolving with

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