Driving Prepared Food Sales

Inside the Numbers: Rutter’s FARM Stores 200+ Number of prepared food combinations available at any given time. 6 New prepared food items added to Rutter’s menu in February 2010. 5 Prepared food items dropped from Rutter’s menu in February 2010. 20% Store sales from prepared foods in the 37 Rutter’s locations equipped with order kiosks.

Leveraging Loyalty

Reaping Rewards Loyalty marketing programs recognize and reward the best customers of a business. Nearly one-third of U.S. consumers (32.3%) consider their participation in retail rewards programs to be “more important” as they seek to stretch their household budgets in the recessionary economy, according to survey research from Colloquy. In another significant result from its

Convenience Industry Holds Strong

When history looks back on 2009 it will not be generous. The U.S. economy was, and to a certain degree, remains locked in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Unemployment is high and the value of the dollar and consumer spending are at near-record lows. While this is bad, it could have been

Capitalizing on Coffee

Opportunity for Growth 54% of the overall adult population drank coffee beverages daily in 2009. Coffee preparation at home is up five percentage points, with 83% of past-day coffee drinkers reporting that they made coffee at home the day before. 80% of coffee drinkers are doing nothing different despite the economic downturn. 17% are visiting

Cigarettes Still King

State Tax Grab During 2009, cigarette tax increases were defeated in 19 states and passed into law in 12 states. States where cigarette tax increases were not enacted include: STATE Failed TAX Increase in 2009 Alabama 32.5 cents per pack Connecticut 50 cents per pack Georgia $1 per pack Kansas 95 cents per pack over

Competitive Pricing Key to Water Sales

Operators hoping to do well with bottled and flavored waters in 2010 need to understand what both water and bottles mean to today’s consumers. Following a decade of steady growth, bottled water sales in c-stores declined last year as consumer spending lagged due to higher fuel prices and the economic recession. But many retailers and

Lighting the Way

Making money in tobacco accessories—lighters, cigar cutters, humidors, pipes, rolling machines, rolling papers and even hookahs—during the months ahead may not be easy, but it can be done. Three ways to do it: offer novel items, stay on the cutting edge of trends and let customers roll their own. The payoff in 2010 could be

Smokeless Stays Strong

With many states passing smoking bans, more customers are turning to smokeless tobacco, and the sales figures from 2009 bear that out. According to Information Resources Inc., for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009 total dollar sales for other tobacco products was $6.07 billion, up 14.6% from last year. Unit sales totaled 2.40 billion,

A Shot of Energy

The “tip of the YEAR” when it comes to selling two-ounce energy shots, said Terry Messmer, merchandise manager for NOCO Express Stores in Tanawanda, N.Y., is to protect margins. “What is happening is that beverage suppliers are very quick to lower the price of the product to get more sales, but we have to still

Protecting Against Theft

RETAIL THEFT 2009 Employee theft accounted for 35.2% of shrink dollars. 41.2% of retailers worldwide experienced a significant increase in shoplifting in 2009, attributable to the economic downturn. Shoplifting and employee theft in the U.S. cost retailers $42.2 billion from June 2008 to June 2009. Every American family was forced to pay an additional $435

Serving the Unbanked

As the economy worsened, the number of adult Americans without bank accounts grew exponentially—and the use of prepaid cash cards climbed to new heights as well. Directo, a company that tracks pay cards to unbanked workers, reported that the recession has sent the number of unbanked Americans soaring to about 50 million, well up from

FDA Looks at Future of Tobacco Products

Confusion Reigns Supreme C-store operators aren’t the only ones left scratching their heads by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) first foray into tobacco regulation.During the FDA’s teleconference, Catherine Lorraine, a lawyer for the administration, said, “I just want to draw your attention to the portion of the definition of a cigarette, which specifically refers

Turning a Foodservice Profit

C-store operators looking to grow their foodservice programs just may be overlooking, or at least underestimating, one of the best tools at their disposal: the humble roller grill. As in-store menus have expanded to include fresh foods and entrees, the time-honored roller grill has quietly continued to please customers and bolster bottom lines thanks to

Managing the Crowded Cold Vault

When it comes to packaged beverages, what gets put on the shelves may not be what customers are looking for and, in this economy, that’s a situation retailers must avoid. Making wise, informed buying decisions is the crucial difference between boosting cooler sales and blowing a lot of hot air. From colas to energy drinks,

Smokeless Sales Stay Strong

Sorting through all of the dynamics at work in the smokeless tobacco category is proving a complex calculation for convenience store operators and consumers alike. For example: retail prices rose with the April 1 passage of an increase to the Federal Excise Tobacco (FET) tax to fund an expansion of SCHIP, the State Children’s Health

Driving Cooler Sales

The economy, the environment and the weather. All three are impacting the sale of bottled water this year. From 1997 until 2007, consumers were thirsty for bottles of clear, refreshing water. Between 2003 and 2008, bottled water sales grew 59% to $5.1 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing drinks on the market. Consumers believed

Customers Indulging in Chocolate

The Benefits of Chocolate Once considered a “guilty pleasure,” researchers now say that chocolate offers health benefits—when consumed in moderation and provided the chocolate is the right kind. International experiments show that dark chocolate has an impressive array of activities, according to the Harvard Health Newsletter. It’s an antioxidant that may improve cholesterol scores and

Strong Outlook for Meat Snacks

Meat snacks—beef jerky, meat sticks, pork rinds and more—are right at home at U.S. convenience stores. And, despite the rough economy and some sales slippage, new products and popular brands continue to excite customers. Paul Lyons, president and owner of Up North Jerky in Troy, Mich., and a partner, with Sam Kassem and Mike Abdullah,

Competition Brews for Beer Sales

Convenience stores across the country are facing burgeoning competition on beer and wine sales from drug store giant Walgreens, which is branching back into the adult beverages category. Walgreens is adding beer sales due to “a direct response to consumer demand,” said Robert Elfinger, spokesperson for the Deerfield, Ill. drug store chain. It plans to

Frozen Sales Heating Up

Since its invention about half a century ago, the frozen dispensed beverage has become a convenience store tradition, with three out of every four U.S. convenience outlets housing a frozen beverage bar. While frozen dispensed beverages are not a huge portion of the typical store’s overall sales, the product is profitable, thanks to a gross

Cigars Enhance Flavor Profile

The SCHIP tobacco tax rates that hit on April 1 are costing cigar smokers more, but sales continue to persevere. As of April, the federal taxes on large cigars rose from 20.719% of the wholesale price with a tax cap of 4.875 cents per cigar to 52.75% of the wholesale price with a tax cap

Roll-Your-Own Climbs Amid Tax Hit

Mounting cigarette costs are driving smokers to test cost-effective tobacco alternatives, such as roll your own (RYO). The 2009 NACS State of the Industry report, which polled 156 retail firms with 20,553 stores as of December 2008, found that pipe and cigarette tobacco sales had the strongest growth of all tobacco products and were up

Gum Sales Grow

The retail sector is still struggling overall, but as some segments continue to sink, others rise. American consumers are still buying billions of dollars of candy each year, and this isn’t changing as they resist making major purchases. Even during a recession, American consumers still have a sweet tooth, which explains why gum and candy

Dipping Into New Profits

In a market plagued by high taxes, declining gross margin profits on cigarettes and the likely possibility of FDA restrictions on tobacco, retailers more than ever need to manage the tobacco category more closely. It’s no secret that the smokeless category has been growing, with big year-on-year gains in new product sales, flavors and line

The Coffee Battle Brews

Convenience store operators need to focus on meeting consumer demand for a quality cup of coffee as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Caribou all announced plans to step up their brew programs to reel in consumers during a tough economy. About 54% of the adult population in the U.S. classify themselves as coffee consumers, according

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