Lessons Learned from Challenging Year

There’s no doubt that 2009 will go down as one of the most challenging years ever for the convenience store and petroleum industry. Combined with the poor economy that plagued marketers all year, credit card fees and tobacco regulations added fuel to a fire that, quite honestly, was already burning out of control. For this

Fighting Credit Card Costs

Is there relief ahead for exorbitant credit card fees? The answer is yes. But first, there’s a fight to be fought. According to NACS in Alexandria, Va., credit card payments have grown from 21% of transactions in 1995 to 49% today, with the trend expected to grow to more than 50% by next year. The

Nice & Envied

Mission accomplished. When John MacDougall challenged his team at Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes to come up with a company mission statement, he left pretty simple instructions. “Keep it short, keep it focused and let’s be true to ourselves,” he said. The result was a concise proclamation of the chain’s commitment to the customers it

Are Your Underground Storage Tanks Safe?

Convenience store operators who don’t know state regulations concerning underground storage tanks (USTs) from a hole in the ground had better learn more about what’s in those holes and what the government is both offering and expecting from them. Federal mandates requiring a significant increase in biofuels production, for example, have spurred an increase in

Turning to the RYO Category

Since the onset of the April SCHIP tax increase, tobacco retailers have been turning to puffed or extended tobacco to help customers deal with the skyrocketing costs of cigarettes, especially as more customers are turning to the roll your own (RYO) category in an attempt to save dollars. Republic Tobacco’s Gambler is the market leader

Creating Supply Chain Efficiencies

Getting products to stores more efficiently is now a major focus for all major retailers and distributors. Better distribution means lower costs and higher margins—both items high on c-store owners’ agendas these days—when customers are clutching their wallets more tightly than they have in years. “There are two ways to make money: increase prices or

Sonja Hubbard Paves the Way for Women in Retailing

As CEO of Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart Stores Inc., which operates more than 300 stores in five states, Sonja Hubbard is a true c-store industry veteran. Hubbard was just a child when her father, Jim Yates founded E-Z Mart in 1970 and learned the ropes at an early age. “I grew up with this industry

Variety Spicing Up Salty Snacks

In the midst of the recession, more consumers are opting for at-home entertainment, which is good news for the salty snacks category. This trend may account for a jump in sales of chips and popcorn, the quintessential counterparts for an at-home movie.  Last year, salty snack sales totaled $4,962 with a profit of $1,867, a

Construction Investments Slowing

It’s costing more than ever to build new convenience stores, according to the NACS’ 2009 State of the Industry report. This news comes at a time when the economy is dragging down sales and profits. As a result, operators face a crucial challenge as they try to grow business organically: build or renovate? The answer

Nice N Easy Named CSD’s 2009 Chain of the Year

Nice guys do finish first. Nice N Grocery Shoppes Inc., the Canastota, N.Y. operator of 82 convenience stores, was named Convenience Store Decisions’ 2009 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. Nice N Easy will be honored at an invitation-only gala at the Wynn Las Vegas during the NACS Show on Oct. 21.  “The last line

New Flavors, Demand Drives OTP

Despite the SCHIP bill and mounting state taxes, smokeless tobacco products have experienced a strong year packed with innovation, new flavors and increased consumer demand. According to the NACS 2009 State of the Industry report, smokeless tobacco sales surged 6.1% to $2.96 billion last year. The average c-store totaled $1,703 per month in smokeless sales

New Products Power the Roller Grill

Tough times call for creative measures. The stagnant economy and hefty cigarette taxes have more c-store chains expanding their foodservice segments and adding more roller grill items to provide a greater array of hot food options at a value price to sustain loyal customers. “Customers automatically associate c-stores and roller grills. It’s been a source

Variety Spicing Up Salty Snacks

Salty Statistics According to a study by The Nielsen Co. that outlined c-store trends, pretzels and popcorn sales saw strong growth during the 52 weeks ended March 21, 2009, with sales for pretzels up $164 million, a 10.1% increase. Popcorn sales totaled $119 million, a 14.3% increase from the previous year. Potato chips lead the

Tracking the Trends

An otherwise tough year for convenience stores was balanced out by strong retail fuel margins from the unprecedented drop in wholesale fuels prices during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) 2009 State of the Industry report. However, credit card fees continue to take a toll on industry profitability.

Harm Reduction: The Voice of Reason

Despite all the naysayers, safer tobacco products are a reality convenience  store owners should embrace. Great strides have been made within the last year to introduce new tobacco products that would, from my perspective, reduce harm when compared with traditional cigarettes. I must say, though, that I would have never thought the quest for harm

Sweet Opportunity

By Bob Gatty, Contributing Editor If manufacturers, distributors and convenience store retailers would embrace some basic changes and work more closely together, they could realize a potential bonanza of hundreds of millions of dollars in new profit, according to a new joint industry study. That is the message of the soon-to-be released “Convenience, Candy &

Concerns Abound for Cigars

The war over tobacco taxes to pay for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) ended on February 4 when Congress passed the Senate’s version of the bill and new President Barack Obama signed it into law. What that means for c-store operators who sell cigars in an era of a rough

Is Green in Your Future?

Being green. You can’t go a day without hearing about it. Escalating energy costs and a renewed awareness of the environment have put green initiatives at the top of the agenda for the global convenience industry. Retail industry leaders such as Walmart and Tesco are setting targets to reduce energy use by at least 20%.

Divine Disruption

Here’s an entirely plausible scenario: At around 8 a.m. on a weekday, customers are lined six deep in front of the only open register at your suburban convenience store. The line has screeched to a halt because a deliveryman running late has flanked the clerk at the register and asked her to sign off on

Smokeless Tobacco Market Includes New Flavor Innovations And Increased Consumer Demand

A perfect storm of societal, legislative, retail and economic factors in 2009 appears poised to push sales of smokeless products—the fastest-growing tobacco category—higher than ever. Convenience store retailers and marketers of such leading brands as Copenhagen, Skoal, Redman, Timberwolf, Kodiak, Red Seal, Rooster, Grizzly, Husky and Longhorn have already seen a flurry of activity on

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