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Cigarettes Continue to Draw Customers

Under fire now for more than a decade, cigarettes remain among the most important in-store categories in convenience stores. Cigarettes, along with other tobacco products (OTP), combined to account for 40.7% of in-store sales, according to the 2013 NACS State of the Industry Report. However, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), cigarette sales in the

ryo tobacco

Optimism for RYO Tobacco

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco will continue to put convenience store operators to the test over the next couple of years—enduring the ongoing legislative assault on all tobacco products while continuing to carry it to provide greater variety and service to loyal consumers. “Roll-your-own tobacco is important for those retailers that are creating a ‘destination stop’ for

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Smokeless Tobacco Still Dominates OTP

The smokeless tobacco category continued its upward trajectory in 2013 thanks to ongoing manufacturer promotions and a growing customer interest in alternative tobacco products to supplement their smoking habits. Manufacturers are capitalizing on the strong sales demand by introducing more products in an array of flavors. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 20, 2014, the

ecigarettes

E-Cigarette Sales Set to Surge in 2014

Even though e-cigarette category dollar sales started 2014 with slight deceleration, growth is expected to remain “robust” going forward, according to Wells Fargo Securities. The convenience store channel saw $45.2 million in sales over the four weeks ended Jan. 18, 2014, plus e-cigs accounted for another $12.4 million in national, cross-outlet markets. “This implies about

cigars

Growing Cigar Sales

Not much has been predictable about the tobacco category over the past 18 months. Huge tax increases have renewed questions about just how much money smokers are willing to invest in their habit, and whether cigarette smokers would merely switch their nicotine fixes to other tobacco products, such as cigars. Amid the upheaval, the cigar

Several Granola Bars Isolated on a White Background with Narrow Depth of Field.

Healthy Snacking Providing New Opportunities

The sweet snacks category shows no sign of slowing down, thanks to a combination of product innovation, smaller portion sizes, enduring brand power and retailers’ recognition that it earns every inch of its shelf space. “The category is doing great,” said Wade Hollis, senior manager of category buyers for Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores.

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Seeds and Nuts Bolster Healthy Snack Sales

Nuts and seeds satisfy too many of Americans’ basic needs—starting with health and convenience—for the brisk sales they are enjoying to slow down any time soon.“People are looking for healthier food,” said John Tomlinson, director of purchasing and merchandising for Duchess Shoppes, in Heath, Ohio, which operates 123 Duchess Shoppes. “That’s why they are heading

meat snacks

Strong Outlook for Meat Snacks

Estimates from Chicago-based Mintel Group, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey and other data, project solid growth for meat snacks all the way through at least 2015, when they should top $1.3 billion While regular-flavored meat and beef jerky products are the most popular based on usage, the research showed, teriyaki

gum and mints

Mints Offer Optimism in Confectionery Segment

While a staple in convenience stores, gum sales continued their decline last year, down 7.2% in dollar sales and almost 8% in unit sales from 2012, according to data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). Dollar sales of regular gum declined a little over 6%, unit sales more than 10%, while sugarless decreased 7.4% in dollar

mintel

Mintel Notes Top Social Media Trends

Employees and top executives are moving front-and-center of their brands’ social media strategy. Mintel has released its latest social media trends update from social media analysts Gabi Lieberman and Lizz Martinez. They have once again singled out the top five trends in online consumer marketplace behavior this quarter, identified from high-level research into the strategies

chocolate

New Products Drive Chocolate Sales

Despite a host of new product introductions and package sizes, chocolate SKUs are holding strong at convenience stores. At Zarco 66, different product configurations and package types and sizes of long-time favorite brands are keeping the category fresh and appealing to a wide range of consumers, said Scott Zaremba, owner of the 10-store Kansas chain.

health and beauty

Capitalizing on Health and Beauty Trends

With healthcare capturing so many headlines these days, the health and beauty category (HBC) has taken on added importance in the c-store set. Fueling much of the growth: smaller package sizes that save shoppers money and stimulate impulse sales. The category—from shampoos and skin creams to cough drops and cold remedies—has always had its rightful

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Mixed Results for the Dairy Business

With dairy consumption in America trending downward, c-store operators will need to sharpen their merchandising and promotional skills, and provide consumers with alternatives, to keep business brisk. “I can tell you that while the ice cream business is solid, the overall dairy business is declining rapidly,” said Richard Reilly, president of family-run Reilly’s Dairy Inc.

iced tea

Tea Sales Remain Solid While Packaged Juice Falters

While innovation is a valued component to every category, the juices and teas segment of packaged beverages seems to be particularly prone to new twists and creative concepts. Largely in response to consumers looking for more functionality and added value in their libations, drink manufacturers have been rolling out juices and teas infused with vitamins,

energy shots

Energy Shots Growth Slows, But Remains Steady

Selling energy shots is highly advantageous. The small package size means retailers can place them in multiple locations without taking away from other items. Because most people drink them warm, they don’t need to take valuable cooler space. And the standard $2.99 price gives them a nice ring. Retailers report brisk sales to everyone from

Energy

Big Brands Boost Energy Drinks Success

Soft drink sales might be flat, but thanks to energy drinks, the convenience store cold vault is as popular as ever. The energy drinks category saw dollar sales in convenience stores of $6.67 billion for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 1, 2013, according to IRI Convenience All Scan data. Dollar sales were up 5.94% from

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Innovation Drives Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages

More than ever, consumers are looking for variety, convenience, speedy service and value when it comes to purchasing cold and frozen dispensed beverages, said Tandy Arrant, business manager for Lubbock, Texas-based United Express convenience stores.   Over the past year, Arrant said, the stores have experienced double-digit sales increases in this category, and he expects

carbonated

Despite Popularity, Carbonated Soft Drinks Facing Challenges

Not very long ago, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) were the rage of a young Baby Boomer generation. Coke and Pepsi ruled the cold door, and life was good for convenience store retailers. But that day has passed, as the category has been flat—or even in decline—for several years, forcing retailers to reset coolers to capitalize

water

Bottled Water, Sports Drinks Remain Strong

Make no mistake—the move away from carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) to what consumers perceive as healthier beverage options is for real. This includes a shift from diet CSDs as well as full-caloried offerings. And one of the major beneficiaries of this move has been the bottled water category, including flavored and enhanced offerings. According to

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Craft, Imports Propel Beer

Beer has long been a staple of convenience stores—a destination stop for adult consumers looking to pick up a 6- or 12-pack on the go. But over the years, consumer trends have changed exactly what they’re picking up. The first change came in the 1970s and early ‘80s, when the Baby Boomer generation matured, and

BEER

Roadrunner Pushes Forward with Innovative Retail Programs

A growler beer program and self-serve frozen yogurt bring fun concepts to the chain’s customers in four states. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor /News & Online Innovation is the corner stone of all successful retail offerings and Roadrunner Markets is fully committed to keeping its store programs fun and exciting.Mountain Empire Oil’s Roadrunner Markets, with

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The 2014 Category Management Outlook

With the industry facing heightened competition and shrinking margins, CSD offers retail insights, expert analysis and emerging trends from more than 30 key in-store categories. A CSD Staff Report While other retail channels have endured sluggish sales and numerous other customer challenges over the past three years, the convenience store and petroleum industry hasn’t missed

chicken

C-Stores Bullish on Chicken

When Larry Miller started in the c-store business in the 1960s, he cut up chicken for the store’s meat market section. But most stores were skittish when it came to prepared products. Handling raw chicken and properly cooking presented minefields. No longer. “The supply chain is safer and the equipment makes it easier to prepare,”

roller grill

Roller Grill Trends Toward Innovation, Made to Order

In 2014, convenience stores are finding they can up their foodservice profile with specialty sausages, a range of breakfast options and different bun types, such as biscuits. “Roller grill offerings have really evolved and expanded in recent years. While hot dogs remain a staple, c-store operators are offering a broader range of items that meet

sandwiches

Sandwiches Made Their Way

In 2014, sandwiches continue to be in high demand among convenience store consumers. Whole grain breads—as well as flatbreads, wraps and all kinds of artisan breads—and specialty cheeses and meats are among options grabbing customer attention. Rutter’s Farm Stores, with 59 locations in York, Pa., has seen success with a number of sandwich items. “Grilled

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