Today there is approximately one c-store per 2,100 U.S. residents.
The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 148,126 stores as of Dec. 31, 2011, a 1.2% increase (1,785 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
The convenience retailing industry has seen remarkable growth over the last three decades. At year-end 1981, the store count was 71,400 stores, year-end 1991 the store count was 103,400 stores and at year-end 2001 the store count was 124,500 stores. The U.S. population on Dec. 31, 2011, was an estimated 313 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means that today there is one convenience per approximately every 2,100 U.S. residents.
“The continued growth in store count shows our industry is vibrant and adding jobs in difficult economic times. Convenience stores are an essential part of the fabric of everyday life across the country and our core offer of convenience continues to resonate with customers,” said NACS Chairman Tom Robinson, president of Robinson Oil in Santa Clara, Calif.
Motor fuels sales continue to be important to convenience store operations. Overall, 81.7% of convenience stores sell motor fuels. A total of 120,950 convenience stores sell motor fuels, a 3.1% increase (3,653 stores) over last year.
The convenience retailing industry also continues to be dominated by single-store operators, accounting for 62.9% of stores (93,209 stores total). The growth of one-store operations again outpaced the overall growth in store count.
Texas (14,766 stores) once again was the state with the most convenience stores, followed by California (10,763 stores) and Florida (9,510 stores).
Five states had store counts grow at a rate that was more than double the national average: New Jersey (3.3% growth), Alaska (3.2%), Massachusetts (2.7%), Oregon (2.7%) and New York (2.6%). Growth in Washington, DC, was 2.9%.
According to Nielsen TDLinx, as of Dec. 31, 2011, the total store count of convenience stores is 30,000-plus locations greater than the cumulative totals of competing channels, including supermarkets (32,924 stores), drug stores (38,526 stores) dollar stores (22,782 stores) and superettes (13,234 stores).