C-Store Sales Remain Soft

A new Wells Fargo report indicates that convenience store category gains in the last quarter were meager.

Convenience store sales in the fourth quarter remained soft for many major categories, according to a new report from Wells Fargo Securities LLC.

Bonnie Herzog, managing director of tobacco, beverage and convenience store research at Wells Fargo Securities, indicated that for the most part, channel sales figures represent a sequential and year-over-year slowdown.

In the cigarette category, soft, solid pricing failed to offset decelerating volume. Cigarettes sales remained relatively flat with an overall decline of 0.2% in the last quarter. Industry leader Altria saw cigarettes sales dip 0.4% during the period. Comparably, smokeless tobacco sales grew 3.4%, during the 12-week period ending Jan. 28.

BEVERAGE BREAKDOWN

In the cooler, bottled waters, flavored carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), energy drinks, and craft and import beers were the top categories. However, no specific beverage category stood out.

Beer-FMB-Cider sales enjoyed a 0.9% bump in sales for the 12-week period. However, Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ), maker of Corona products, was a bright spot with a sales hike of 18.8%, and with the price rising 1.8% and an equivalized volume growth of 19.6%.

“We continue to believe the c-store channel remains a significant opportunity for STZ, as retailers allocate incremental shelf space to STZ brands,” Herzog said.

Mirroring a long-term market trend, carbonated soft drink (CSD) sales declined. Total CSD dollar sales in c-stores were down 1.1%.

There was a continued overall slowdown in the energy category, with only a modestly improving future outlook; a lack of focus on core energy products and a less-than-stellar launch of Monster’s Mutant line. Without Mutant, Monster saw increased sales of 0.5% during the last quarter.

Sales salty snacks over the last 12 weeks, ending Jan. 28, rose 1.2% on equivalized unit declines of 2.7%.

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