Pizza: Old Tastes Trump New Trends

It seems the future of pizza hinges on just how far retailers are willing to stray from the confines of that traditional pizza box. "If you get too far outside the box, you’ll probably sell less pizza," said Neal Hollingsworth, vice president of marketing at Hot Stuff Pizza. And if you stay cloistered within the

GROCERY: Sales Vary Widely

The line between grocery and convenience channels in the U.S. continues to blur, especially with the addition of mega retailers like the UK-based Tesco (Fresh & Easy) and Japan’s FamilyMart (Famima). Though neither of these retailers sell gas, both consider themselves members of the c-store channel in growing, upscale markets, such as Los Angeles, Phoenix

Chicken: Poultry in Motion with Chicken in Top Spot

One of the most versatile and marketable products in retail foodservice has also become the No. 1 convenience item consumers are choosing in their quest for meat and poultry products. A recent study by the National Chicken Council (NCC) shows that U.S. consumers consider chicken to be the most widely available convenience food product, as

General Merchandise: Competition Impacting Novelty

General merchandise rounded out the top 10 in-store categories by gross profit contribution, according to the National Association of Convenience Store’s (NACS) State of the Industry (SOI) report. Finishing 10th, just behind cold dispensed beverages, on a per-store, per-month basis, stores averaged $2,373 in merchandise sales with a gross profit contribution of $873. The bad

DELI, BAKERY AND PREPARED FOODS: Fresh Remains Key For Customers

The tendency for Americans to want more fresh and fresh prepared food is clearly growing, which is why traditional U.S. convenience stores have been joined by overseas chains like Tesco and Famima. "I think the lifestyle is really changing here," said Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of Famima Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Japan’s FamilyMart

Isotonics and Energy Drinks: Isotonics Maintain, Energy Drinks Soar

Isotonics and sports drinks maintain strong sales and will probably continue to do so, given consumers’ growing demands for healthful food and drink that meets the body’s needs following physical activity. Energy-drink purchases, on the other hand, are growing exponentially across the country—leading retailers to keep seeking the best strategies for leveraging the category’s popularity.

Technology Driving Safety and Cash Management

Safeguarding c-stores and the people and property in and around them is getting easier and more economical thanks largely to incremental advances in a variety of technologies. Among them: safes that do more, software systems that communicate better and electronic eyes that see more. Theft and mayhem of all types, from gas pump drive-offs and

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

Alternative Energy (Shots and bars): Buying Energy by the Shot

Make room for the new kid on the block: Energy shots, those concentrated versions of energy drinks that are beginning to mirror the high sales figures of their parent product. Granted, some customers buy energy shots to add to their energy drink in a kind of shot-and-chaser strategy. But for an increasing number of buyers,

Faith-Fueled and Furious

At a jail in Valparaiso, Ind., there’s a rebel musician who’s probably wishing he’d sung just a little bit louder. At a church in San Francisco, there’s a holy man wishing he and his flock had prayed just a little bit harder. And in a backwater town just outside Kansas City, Mo., there’s a new

Cold & Frozen dispensed beverages: Mixing it Up in Cold Dispensed

Average per-store sales of cold dispensed beverages experienced modest gains that shouldn’t give retailers pause when they manage this category, as leading c-store chains are showing that big profits can spurt from some tiny fountain heads. Ricker’s c-stores, for instance, a 30-store chain headquartered in Anderson, Ind., has shaped much of its identity on its

Carbonated Soft Drinks: Strong, But Losing Ground

Most carbonated soft drink companies found 2007 a good year, but not because of CSD sales in the U.S. Increases in carbonated beverage sales outside North America plus profits from their non-carbonated acquisitions are keeping Coke and Pepsi strong, despite the introduction of new products such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Max, industry analysts

The Customer: Wine Appetites and Beer Wallets

The 2008 consumer, complex and roiling in its many needstates, has become a multi-headed hydra whose rituals and habits are being altered by external forces. It is, however, a creature predictable on at least one front: It always appreciates the convenience and value of the neighborhood c-store. Pinched by rising costs of fuel, food and

Cigarettes: Taxation Taking a Toll

Cigarettes by far continue to be the top in-store category based on sales dollars. On a monthly basis, the industry per store average for 2007 was $39,127. However, its gross profit contribution slipped to 3.2% to $6,152 falling behind package beverages ($6,526.) The reason tobacco fell to No. 2 is simply taxation. Since 2002, 43

Secure Your System

MasterCard announces that more than 40 million credit card numbers belonging to U.S. consumers have been accessed by a computer hacker and are at risk of being used for fraud; however, company officials can’t say how long the confidential information has been missing. A disgruntled technology employee cracks his former company’s computer system and destroys

Sweet Deliverance

Caffeine-infused potato chips. Ginseng-infused coffee. Guarana-infused gum. No matter the combination, functional food manufacturers are probably trying it. Add this one to the list: Sedative-infused chocolates. The confectionary world is on its way to proving the salability of health and energy products doesn’t have to end at the threshold of the candy aisle. In the

Moving Over to the Dark Side

Chocolate may be bringing up the rear of America’s upscale revolution, but consumers and a growing number of c-store operators aren’t complaining. Higher-priced, better quality chocolates are finding acceptance on more store shelves all the time–great for consumers and great for operators’ bottom lines. Resistance to the higher price points will fade in time as

Driving the Dairy Business

Convenience store operators nationwide are grappling with nearly unprecedented food inflation, particularly involving bakery and dairy products, that is sending tremors throughout the retail supply chain. Recent price volatility fueled by a weak dollar, rising energy costs, consumer wariness, competitive pressure and other factors is making it difficult to market staples like bakery and dairy

Is Bulk Candy Marketing Right for You?

While single packs of gum and candy get the most attention in the candy aisle, retailers often report strong margins from bulk packages and multi packs, which carry a higher price and typically offer a greater value for consumers. But will that greater value translate into consistently stronger sales? The answer appears to be yes…sometimes,

Where to Find the Best Hourly Employees

You might be surprised to learn that the best source of new employees in convenience retailing has changed very little over the past 25 years. The number one best source of great employees still is and always has been referrals—people you already know or who your employees know. In surveys we conducted between Feb. 2007

Bring Trust and Loyalty Back to the Workplace

Once upon a time in corporate America people actually liked going to work every day. They enjoyed the camaraderie of their co-workers, and they truly believed their work was making a difference, not only in the organization, but also in the world. Likewise, the company took care of its people, listened to them, and provided

Changing the Channel

Maybe it’s all headed toward a day of total convergence, when the lines separating one industry from the next will be irreversibly blurred. Consider the freewheeling dynamics of retailing in the past few years: McDonald’s has been offering DVD rentals by way of in-store kiosks. Blockbuster stores have begun offering c-store fare such as fountain

No Mystery Here: Speedway Voted Best Customer Service

It’s impossible to know if the pool of customers hired by market research firm Corporate Research International (CRI) would have pegged Speedway SuperAmerica LLC as the leader in customer service five years ago. The Enon, Ohio-based marketer wasn’t even among the handful of convenience store chains whose customer service was evaluated quarterly by the research

ROI: Return on Involvement

To the lay observer, it was just a Styrofoam cup jammed between the windshield and dashboard of a working man’s pickup parked outside an Indiana convenience store. To Jay Ricker, it was testament to the importance of mastering the fundamentals, concrete proof that having a good thing means knowing when you should or shouldn’t mess

What’s in a Name?

The question Jim Dodrill grappled with last summer: What’s in a name? A partner at Pennsylvania-based LMA Architects, Dodrill had been approached by Consumers Petroleum of Trumbull, Conn. to help create a corporate brand for the company’s dozen or more convenience stores in Connecticut. Consumers Petroleum had acquired a handful of existing convenience stores in

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