Archives for June 2008

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

Branded Food: Fast Brands Build Business

Branded fast foods are major league players in today’s convenience channel. Indeed, the 45 chains recently surveyed by Convenience Store Decisions rang up some $380 million in branded foodservice sales last year. A pretty impressive figure, and one that is likely to make any c-store owner’s mouth water at the mere thought of adding a

Technology: Plural Platforms Top Priority

Today’s c-store retailers want technology platforms that will allow them to manage fuel brands, foodservice operations, remain PCI compliant, easily access data and help improve customer service simultaneously. Sound like a tall order? It’s really not, said Jenny Bullard, chief information officer of the Jones Co., which owns 177 Flash Foods stores in Georgia and

Security and operations: Security and operations: Security and operations: Operating Costs Rise Across the Board

The cost of operating a convenience store is up significantly thanks in part to a number of factors, the most glaring being interchange fees and credit card costs. But labor and utilities also experience significantly higher year-on-year gains. The industry’s operating expenses on a per-store, per-month basis rose across the board in 2007, according to

Car Wash and Motor Fuels: Fueling Frustration

Fuel price volatility is here to stay. Marketers must learn how to manage it to their advantage. That was the cold, hard message conveyed in the 2008 NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. Marketers are urged to pay attention to sales volumes, but also focus on gross margin dollars and to always look at

The Competition: Discretionary Spending Looms Large

For the past decade, the list of retailers that have cut into the convenience store industry’s consumer base has included the usual suspects: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreens and a slew of other national brands in a smattering of channels. C-stores are predictably pitted against those same powerhouses in 2008, but the environment is far more

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

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

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

Corralling the Customers

There’s little debating the sort of purchase Buffalo Bill Cody would make these days if he could ramble into one of the southwest Missouri corner stores that brandish his name. “He seemed like a beef jerky kind of guy to me,” Curtis Jared, president and CEO of Cody’s Convenience Stores, said of the cowpoke-turned-entertainer who’s

By the Numbers

» 15 Cents Discount per gallon Kroger is offering customers as part if its enhanced fuel discount program by accumulating credits through purchases made at the company’s U.S. stores. » 33 Zip Trip stores that are rebranding from 76 to Cenex. The initial conversion covers the fuel offering. Once completed, the c-stores will also be

7-Eleven Forging DSD Changes

7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto (pictured) fired a shot heard ‘round the industry calling for reforms to the direct store delivery (DSD) distribution system that helped grow the operator to one of the largest retailers in the U.S. The system has been used effectively for some 30 years, but the problem is, not much

Convenience Industry Study Outlined at All Candy Expo

Three industry associations are partnering on a groundbreaking research effort to identify more effective and profitable opportunities in confections. Details of the study, which was spearheaded by The Hershey Co. and Eby-Brown, were announced at the All Candy Expo in Chicago. The study is intended to help generate increased sales and profits of confectionery products

Hometown Convenience

Folks in Walla Walla, Wash., say their town is so nice, you have to say it twice. Bill and Loretta Singer (pictured on front) may be inclined to say it three or four times, seeing as the dynamics in this small town 13 miles north of the Oregon border have grown their relatively young convenience

Fighting Through the Pain

Everybody wants a piece of the action. That was among the key messages my father taught me when he was running his business. Though he only had three pumps and four service bays, there was no shortage of business partners or associates who wanted a cut when times were good, but were nowhere to be

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

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

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

Bottled Water: New Water Pours Forth

Conventional wisdom says the bottled water market is flooded, but that may not be the case at the high end, according to Beverage Marketing, which reports that high-end brands like Iceland Spring and Iceland Glacial, Voss and Isbre appear eager to parlay an exotic source and upscale packaging into an above-premium business, much as Fiji

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

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,

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.

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

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

Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Health and Beauty Care: Competition Impacts HBC Sales

After buying a soda, milk, apple juice, a loaf of bread, paper plates, dishwashing detergent and a bagel, the typical c-store customer might—and that’s a big might—purchase a bottle of aspirin. Make no mistake about it: Health and beauty care in c-stores is akin to an unruly stepchild when it comes to in-store categories. Up