High Margins Propel General Merchandise

The general merchandise/novelty category provides retailers with a unique opportunity to capture customers’ personal interests in a high-margin item. Novelty has evolved into a core category because retailers can anticipate 30-60% margins on novelty products. With such strong profit potential, chains in major markets can earn about $35,000 a year per store from the novelty

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Products, Packaging Key to HBC

Private Label Predicament Private label categories are increasing across all product categories, including HBC. While consumers still want the brands they know and trust, in today’s economy many are looking for a more optimally priced equivalent. In the first aid category, private label sales are up 10% compared to last year, according to Nielsen for

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

Strong Outlook for Confections

Candy Shopper Insights Repositioning candy to the highest traffic aisle in the store could significantly boost sales, according to the “Convenience, Candy & Profit” study conducted by Kit Dietz, of Dietz Consulting. Other key findings include: • Keeping core brands in stock at all times. • Improving in-store product placement. • Understanding and responding to

Demand Grows for Packaged Sales

Given current level of public concern over health issues, it’s hardly surprising more c-stores are increasing offerings of prepackaged goods, including sandwiches and baked products. Even with prepackaged sandwiches, “stores need to be vigilant against contamination of any kind,” said environmental specialist and HACCP-Plus President Marsha Robbins, who added store employees must also be attentive

Flexibility Boosts Chicken Sales

Did You Know? Results from the 2008 Consumer Market for Chicken 1,000 Household Survey found that 23% of respondents had purchased rotisserie chicken in four weeks prior to the survey. Consumers with an income of $75,000 or more are the most likely purchasers of rotisserie chicken (31%). Those with an income of $30,000 to $39,999

Pizza Palates Changing

Fast Facts About Pizza • Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or about 350 slices per second. • Pizza is a $30 billion per year industry. There are approximately 69,000 pizzerias in the U.S. Approximately three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year. (Source: Blumenfeld and Associates) • Pizzerias represent

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

Competition Heats Up for Coffee

Did You Know? Data released by the National Coffee Association shows the market penetration for coffee has surpassed that of soft drinks, reversing a 20-year pattern. Fifty-seven percent of American adults drink coffee daily versus 51% for soft drinks. Coffee drinking among 18-24 year-olds also jumped 6%, the fourth year in a row for such

New Products, Fuel Dispensed Beverages

The cold frozen dispensed category is undergoing some major changes these days, with many c-stores adding milkshakes and even energy slushees to their offerings. The additions continue to make the cold and frozen dispensed category one of the hottest in the convenience store industry. “We’ve had great success with using energy drinks like Monster, Rock

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

Wild Ride Continues for Cigarettes

Once again, cigarettes dominated in-store sales, accounting for nearly one in every three dollars spent in stores, but cigarette gross margins continued to plummet, falling to 15.3%. These low cigarette margins dropped the category to third in terms of gross margin contribution (16%) behind foodservice (23.9%) and packaged beverages (16.6%) Margins promise to continue falling

Mixed Results for Carbonated

The U.S. refreshment beverage market contracted by 2% in 2008, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., making last year the first volume downturn on record. Nonetheless, beverages still performed better than many other industries, such as automobiles and the financial sector. Several beverage types continued to shine, including carbonated soft drinks in many parts of the

A Shot of Energy

Did You Know? Energy shot sales have doubled to $423 million, according to a report released last month by Zenith International. Other key findings from the “2009 Zenith Energy Shot Drinks” report include: • Energy shot drinks present traditional energy drinks with new distribution channel opportunities, such as the health and nutrition sector. • Living

Burst of Energy

Did You Know? By the year 2001, the U.S. energy drink market had grown to nearly $8 million per year in retail sales. Over the next 5 years, it grew an average of more than 50% per year, totaling over $3 billion in 2005. Diet energy drinks are growing at nearly twice that rate within

Bottled Water Holds Strong

Proprietary Brands Prosper With consumers seeking less expensive options, private label sales are increasing across all channels, but struggling in c-stores, where they brought in $3 billion in sales, but were down 3.3% compared to last year, for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 21, 2009. In contrast, Wal-Mart’s private label sales were up by 10.8%,

Equipment Key to Driving Food Sales

Convenience store operators in search of faster cooking times and longer holding times are finding foodservice equipment that can help. But which pieces, at what price points, with what sort of ROIs and in what sort of configuration remain questions that must be weighed and answered. For an industry whose core competency isn’t food, and

Economists Predict Recession’s End

  More than 90% of economists predict the recession will end this year, although the recovery is likely to be rough, the Associated Press reported.   The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) recently surveyed leading forecasters about the state of the economy. The results of the survey, released Wednesday, showed their views are in

Pepsi Co. To Cut Jobs

  Frito-Lay Inc.’s Plano headquarters let go about 130 employees this week as its parent company, Pepsi Co., initiates a “productivity program,” the Dallas Morning News reported.   PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., said Tuesday it plans to eliminate about 3,300 positions across the globe, 300 of which will be employees of Frito-Lay, the nation’s largest

Consumers Concerned Over Gas Prices

  A majority of consumers are planning road trips this summer and gas is the top expense they are budgeting for, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of Petrofix. Some 92% of respondents noted finding the lowest-priced gas during their trip will be important.   Petrofix, an online service that controls gas

McCafé Off To Strong Start

  Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. executives said on Wednesday that the company’s rollout of its new McCafé coffee line is off to good start, and it anticipates data on its market share impact to be available in about six months, according to Reuters.   Around 11,000 of McDonald’s roughly 14,000 U.S. locations now have

California Smokers May Face New Tax

This June, lawmakers in California will debate a bill that would increase the state cigarette tax by a whopping $1.50 a pack, the Los Angeles Times reported. Those in favor of the bill say the increase would bring in $1.2 billion to the state each year.   For years, tobacco companies have successfully fought similar

More Loose Tobacco Cigarettes for Less

  Recent tax increases on tobacco products, have prompted Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Bowling Green, Ky., an Imperial Tobacco Group company and the fourth largest tobacco company in the U.S., to introduce a revised portfolio of finely-crafted loose tobacco.    The brands, McClintock, Rave and Premier, have all been modified to offer customers and consumers more

New Campaign To Curb Teen Drinking

  The Pantry Inc., operating as Kangaroo Express and Anheuser-Busch and its local distributors have teamed up on a new campaign to help fight underage drinking sales to minors in the Pantry’s 448 stores in Florida.   The program is called “We I.D.,” and builds on current efforts by The Pantry to restrict underage alcohol

Bottled Water Manufacturers Focus on Sustainability

  Pepsi Co. is reducing the amount of plastic used to make its bottled water bottles in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.   The new 16.9-oz. Aquafina bottle weighs about 20% less than the previous version and is among the lightest in the U.S. In addition, the company is shrink-wrapping its 24-pack of

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