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Five Ways to Stop Wasting Cash in Inventory

Scrutinizing expenditures across all areas of the business is a proven method for boosting profitability. By Betsi Bixby, Meridian Associates. When we do business valuations for marketers who want to know what their business or someone else’s is worth, one of the criteria we measure is inventory efficiency. Why? Because inefficient inventory will actually reduce

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Stop’n Go Celebrates 50 Years

As part of the year-round festivities, stores will hold community events to celebrate their individual anniversaries. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Stop’nGo of Medina Inc. is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year with store celebrations, promotions and customer sweepstakes, among a slew of other exciting commemorative events. Family-owned Stop’nGo operates 10 locations throughout Medina and

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United Supermarkets Growing its C-Store Business

With fresh foods, made-to-order coffee and drive-through service, United Express is meeting the grab-and-go needs of Texas customers. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor United Supermarkets is going all in on its effort to boost its convenience store business by expanding its United Express c-store concept. With two freestanding United Express stores already up and running,

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Tracking the Trends in 2013

Despite a weakened economy, the convenience store industry posted healthy sales gains in key in-store categories, such as foodservice, snacks, beverages and tobacco products, raising optimism for an even stronger 2013. For all the concerns about reduced consumer spending over the past 15 months, convenience stores experienced another strong year in 2012. Core categories, such

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Squelching Negative Social Media Backlash

Four tips for managing your response if your chain comes under social media assault. By Ashley Verrill, Contributing Editor. Customer service expert, consultant and author Micah Solomon told me recently about one question that consistently dominates group discussion at his public speaking events: “Isn’t my brand and company in danger out there in the social

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Opening the Door to Back Office and Mobile Services

With about 235 million Americans using mobile devices (about 50%), according to Comscore, and smartphone usage as ubiquitous as a cold can of beer, it’s easy to see why some retailers are jumping on the mobile-commerce bandwagon. With the growing popularity of PayPal, Square and mobile payment options, retailers are realizing the value in making

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E-Cigarette Use Surging

Hailed by many as an emerging threat to the tobacco cigarette industry, electronic cigarettes have provided smokers with an alternative to traditional tobacco-based smoking. These battery-operated devices simulate the experience of traditional cigarette smoking by supplying the user with a nicotine delivery system, the appearance of smoke upon exhalation and the hand to mouth familiarity

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Consumers Craving Meat Snacks

America’s craving for dried protein-rich meat snacks is showing no signs of slacking as jerky sales hit $1 billion and other dried meat snacks $1.1 billion, according to Chicago-based research group SymphonyIRI. During the 52-week period ended Jan. 27, 2013, dollar sales for non-jerky, dried meat snacks grew 5.4%, said Jamil Satchu, a partner with

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Smokeless Stays Strong and Steady

The smokeless tobacco category provided another solid year for convenience stores in 2012, and all signs indicate that 2013 should remain just as strong.According to SymphonyIRI, total smokeless sales in U.S. convenience stores for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2012 totaled $4.82 billion, a firm 5.61% increase over 2011. Units sold also jumped 3.39%

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Fuel Customers Looking for Deals and Discounts

Price, deals, discounts and loyalty programs are increasingly influencing where consumers purchase gas, how much they spend and which brands they purchase, according to recent motor fuels research by The NPD Group. Volatile gas prices and a challenging economic environment have taught fuel consumers to seek out deals, discounts and loyalty programs to get the

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Pursuing the Loyalty Factor

In the convenience store industry, successful loyalty programs adhere to a tried-and-true mantra: rewards, recognition and service, said Fred Thompson, a partner specializing in retail services practices at LoyaltyOne Consulting. Offering rewards because everyone is doing it or simply to access customer information is only going to drive the business so far, said Thompson, who

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Lighters Anchor Tobacco Accessories

While electronic cigarettes and moist smokeless tobacco showed strong growth in 2012, tobacco accessories—lighters specifically—also experienced appreciable sales gains. For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2012, lighter sales in U.S. convenience stores increased 3.18% to $520 million, according to SymphonyIRI. Unit sales decreased slightly 0.33% to 366 million. The average price of a lighter

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Breakfast Gets Better-For-You

When a snacking occasion hits, convenience store customers are reaching for grab-and-go treats, from more healthful energy and food bars to more indulgent cakes and cookies, and the same goes for breakfast. Energy bars did not have wide appeal or distribution as recently as 1990, but over the past two decades these products have since

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Packaging and Flavor Drive Cigars

Cigar sales are holding steady despite increased taxation across many states, thanks to cheaper price points and innovative flavors. Overall, for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2012, SymphonyIRI reported that cigar sales in convenience stores slipped a modest 3.16% to $2.41 billion. Unit sales were down just 0.84% indicating that increased taxes are eroding

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Nuts and Seeds Boost Salty Snack Sales

At Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart convenience stores, sales of nuts and seeds increased 13% last year over 2011, said Category Manager Danna Huskey. That is right in line with the double-digit growth (10.4%) tracked for the $4.6 billion total snack nuts, seeds and corn nuts category for the latest 52 weeks ended Jan. 27, 2013,

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Taking the Bite Out of Crime

The good news is that the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released its 2013 economic forecast pointing to a projected 3.4% boost in retail industry sales. And the estimations are running true to form: The projected increase in retail industry sales is just shy of the 4.2% growth reported in early 2012. But the bad

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The Shape of Things to Come in the Prepaid Market

For Tom Gilbert, single-digit percentage growth is continuing to push multi-product gift card kiosk sales. And the president of the Royal Performance Group division at Royal Buying Group Inc. sees more changes coming. “As point-of-sale (POS) technology becomes more prevalent, prepaid loyalty/reward initiates become more available, either as a standalone product or as an added

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Cigarettes Remain Dominant in C-Stores

Cigarettes have long been a staple at U.S. convenience stores, accounting for billions in pack and carton sales and boosting the profits from the average smoker’s market basket. For 2012, total cigarette sales in convenience stores totaled more than $52 billion, down a slight 1.68%. Units sold slipped 2.05% to 8.75 billion. While sales may

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Health and Beauty Sales Get a Lift

HBC is making a comeback from coast to coast. The category—from shampoos and skin creams to cough drops and cold remedies—has always had its rightful place in a convenience store—providing a grab-and-go remedy for a variety of ailments. Still, the category has been stigmatized at c-stores as an offering that commands a much higher price

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Potato Chips Continue Reign Over Salty Snacks

Even with the health and wellness trend continuing, consumers are still reaching for bags of potato chips in large numbers, which is good news for c-store retailers. Technomic, in its March Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend report noted that consumers are snacking significantly more now compared to 2010, with 48% of consumers polled saying they’re now

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Candy is Dandy on C-Store Shelves

Candy sales have remained sweet over the past several quarters. Candy, gum and mints contribute $32 billion annually to the U.S. economy, with the convenience channel controlling 21% of the market, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) reported. “The incidence of candy and gum purchases in convenience stores was up 4% in the fourth quarter of

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Gum and Mints: Still a Sticky Category

The sputtering economy has taken a bite out of gum and mints, a category that has seen steady declines since 2010. As of 2012, gum and mints remained a $4.3 billion business, but sales are expected to drop by 1.7% through 2017, according to Mintel, a global consumer research firm. Some industry observers, such as

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Taking Back the RYO Business

It has been a wild 12 months for the roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco segment, but the good news for convenience store retailers is that legislation passed in 2012 will actually help the industry hold onto to its RYO market share. In the wake of the 2009 shift in tax rates, pipe tobacco is taxed at a

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The 2013 Convenience Foodservice Outlook

Thanks to an increasingly busy lifestyle, today’s c-store customers regard food prepared away from home as a necessity, and the industry’s top-quartile retailers have benefited handsomely from meeting the growing demand for fresh foods. By David Bishop, Managing Partner, Balvor LLC Convenience store retailers are battling even harder for their share of the retail foodservice

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Sports Drinks Fuel Beverage Sales

Sports drinks manufacturers are keeping pace with consumers who are seeking added benefits in their beverages. Gatorade enhanced its brand lineup—not just with new packaging—but blends that promote specific health benefits. Their efforts are paying off with increased sales. According to SymphonyIRI, sales of single-serve sports drinks in convenience stores jumped a healthy 8.85% to

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