fresh cold tea

Tea & Juice Sales Keep Flowing

Consumers’ desire for newer, healthier and more convenient drinks is fueling c-stores’ profits. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Dual demand for healthy packaged beverages and variety still drives sales of teas and juices at convenience stores. To take advantage of such momentum, attentive c-store owners and operators are paying heed to the trends, keeping top-selling

Havana Cigars Texture

Lifting the Veil

What will it take to get Cuban cigars onto c-store shelves? By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience store operators who thought cigars when they learned of President Obama’s plan to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and dismantle economic sanctions may have to wait a while to bring those quality stogies to shelves. With an embassy

Coffee

Brewing Up Innovation

The rising cost of coffee and growing competition among convenience stores is spurring richer coffee programs across the board. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Due to Last Year’s droughts that hit Brazil, in addtion to a fungus that ravaged coffee bean fields in Central America for a good part of 2014, coffee prices rose about

meat

Meat Snacks Surge

New flavors, old favorites spark growth in a competitive snacking segment. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Meat snacks—particularly jerky—continue to win a special place in consumers’ hearts—not just for the highly portable protein they provide, but also for their exotic flavors and ingredients, engaging promotions and product innovation. Brands like Jack Link’s, Frito Lay, Oh

energy

Plenty of Energy

As sales chug along, energy drinks continue to be an influential driver in the beverage market. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor The energy category continues to be a staple of the convenience store mix. And while top-selling brands such as Red Bull and Monster remain on top, consumers are coming to look for new flavors

electronic cigarette

E-Cigs Driving E-Choices

As big tobacco embraces the market, consumers are seeking a broader array of vaping products. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Savvy convenience store operators are taking stock in consumers’ growing hunger for tobacco alternatives, which is widening to include more than just electronic cigarettes. While best sellers like Lorillard Tobacco’s blu, Logic, NJOY, R.J. Reynolds’

Cigarettes with dollar

Mounting Pressure

As cigarette prices rise, margin stress on retailers remains. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor With cigarette consumption likely to continue to decline in the mid-single-digit range, pricing remains a crucial factor for retailers, and one that convenience store operators are watching with great interest. The Big Three U.S. tobacco manufacturers—Lorillard Inc., Philip Morris USA and

rollergrill

Striking a Balance

Americans are constantly weighing convenient food options that are either indulgent or healthier. As a result, more convenience stores are ensuring they have both types to choose from. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor The average American eats six convenience foods daily, according to industry statistics. With a number that significant, and more consumers relying on

smokeless

Smokeless Holds its Own

Despite the popularity of electronic cigarettes and the gloominess of regulatory concerns, smokeless tobacco continues to be a significant seller for convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Because smoking restrictions have increased and the sale of cigarettes continues to decline across the U.S., it’s not surprising that smokeless tobacco sales have remained on an

e-cigs

Hoping to Ignite

C-stores search for the key to unlocking the marketability of e-cigars. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Electronic cigarette sales are soaring and the vapor tank-mods business is growing. But when it comes to e-cigars, convenience store operators may find unlocking their untapped potential a challenge. While e-cigarettes are sometimes used as a buffer against traditional

Cigars

Cigar Issues Still Fresh

For convenience stores that sell cigars, it’s business as usual—at least until regulators say otherwise. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Now that the comment period on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) deeming regulations has passed, only time will tell what restrictions might affect the cigar segment, which is still alive and well. A

RollerGrill

Grill Items Remain Hot

Roller grill food offerings can always be improved, but never at the expense of freshness and quality. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Lunch and dinner programs that present convenience store customers with a variety of roller grill options and more meal options are effective ways to build foodservice sales. In fact, fresh, savory items, such

pizza

Healthier Pizza Options

When it comes to tastier and more nutritious pizza, consumers want their pie and they want it fresh. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor American consumers have always expected to have their cake and eat it, too. That also apply to pie—as in pizza pie. Americans might love pizza, but they also desire healthy, lower-calorie options.

Electronic cigarette with parts isolated on a white

Finding a Niche

Vaping products are helping offset declining cigarette sales. Howard Riell, Associate Editor With cigarette sales continuing their seemingly irreversible decline, c-store operators are making up lost dollars with electronic cigarettes and, most recently, refillable vapor tanks. Driving that business forward, however, is a bit trickier than traditional cigarettes, requiring better merchandising and an increased knowledge

HBC

Beautifying Sales

Knowing what women want—and expect—can help c-stores understand how to grow the HBC category. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As convenience stores look to attract more female customers, industry figures indicate that the health and beauty care (HBC) category offers retailers an opportunity they might not have considered before. While no one is claiming that

cigarettes

Banking on Cigarettes

Declining sales, consolidation and consumer alternatives pose challenges for retailers who rely on cigarette sales to maintain margins. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Cigarettes Are still a vital c-store category despite recent declining sales. Restrictive regulations and new competition in the form of both dollar stores and alternative products like e-cigarettes and vapor tanks are

gift-cards-collage

Making Prepaid Pay

Marketing, merchandising and knowing customers’ needs are keys to expanding prepaid profitability. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Research indicates that the amount of money spent at retail on prepaid services continues to grow in the U.S. But that may not necessarily mean the category will pay off handsomely for every c-store operator. The total dollars loaded

VRC_Tunnel_Takeover_1

A Forward Look at Convenience Retailing

As Convenience Store Decisions celebrates its 25th anniversary, retail experts weigh in on what consumers and c-store operators can expect over the next 25 years. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor “You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” Steve Jobs once cautioned. “You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the

Tea

Teas Quench RTD Demand

With carbonated drink sales fizzing, ready-to-drink teas are satisfying customers’ thirst and c-store sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As soft drink sales decline, customers continue to turn to iced teas and non-carbonated fruit beverages for healthful refreshment and exciting new tastes. Ready-to-drink (RTD) teas continue to lead growth among packaged beverages, something demographic findings

slurpee

FOR ALL SEASONS

Whether it’s the dog days of summer or the hazy shade of winter, innovative promotions can help maintain frozen beverage sales all year long. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience store operators know customers seek cold and frozen dispensed beverages when the thermometer outside rises. However, what can c-stores to do promote sales when temperatures

smokeless

Ruling on Smokeless Tobacco

Although smokeless tobacco has successfully held off most margin pressures, the category cannot escape the scrutiny of regulators. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As sales of traditional cigarettes continue to decline, many convenience stores are making the most of the swelling popularity of the smokeless tobacco category. C-store sales of smokeless tobacco climbed by 7.6%

SNACKS!

Salty Snacks Still Satisfy

Americans’ propensity for snacking hasn’t wavered, according to new research, and understanding trends can boost store sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. A convenience store’s strategy to boost salty snack sales can be bolstered by understanding the growing body of research examining consumers and their snacking habits, then making adjustments to accommodate customers’ buying habits.

CCTV Camera Operating inside a shop

Employing Low-Tech Solutions

Employee theft is a routine cause of shrink. Sometimes the best loss prevention solutions are the most basic. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Employee theft is one of the biggest causes of shrink among c-stores, and retailers are combating it with high-tech solutions like high speed video cameras and online monitoring. But as is often

safe

Mastering Store Security

High-tech solutions are most effective if low-tech solutions are also in place to back them up. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Employee theft is one of the biggest causes of shrink among c-stores, and retailers are combating it with high-tech solutions like high speed video cameras and online monitoring. But as is often the case,

employee

The Convenience Retailing of Tomorrow

Technology and automation to be the biggest trends impacting convenience stores in the future. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor “You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” Steve Jobs once cautioned. “You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” And so as Convenience

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