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

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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

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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

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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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Cigars Face Uncertain Future

The c-store industry continues to monitor the FDA’s deeming rules regarding cigars and what it means going forward. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor The federal government’s recent decisions concerning tobacco products, specifically cigars, underscore the need for vigilance and involvement on the part of convenience store operators, not just to maintain category sales, but to

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Meat Snacks Move Ahead

Just as consumers continue to crave meat snacks, savvy convenience store operators are taking full advantage with smart sets, effective merchandising and promotional opportunities. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Twenty-Five years ago, meat snack choices seldom strayed beyond traditional beef jerky. Today, however, spicy and exotic varieties have enlivened the category, even as functional and

ATM

Shaping the Future of ATMs

As new technology emerges, retailers are boosting profits in the changing era of financial services. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience stores that offer financial services are perhaps responding to societal changes. But as monetary tools become more modern—especially in the case of ATMs—operators will have to game plan even more to provide customers the

cigarettes

Meeting the Challenge

Aggressive pricing and eliminating product outages are two keys to maintaining cigarette sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Even as the buzz of e-cigarettes continues to grow, traditional cigarettes remain an essential product for the convenience store industry. However with increasing pressures from government and regulators, cigarette sales continue to decline with seemingly no let

smokeless

Smokeless Sales Stay Strong

Smokeless tobacco remains a robust category amid growing e-cigarette performers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As sales continue to lead the other-tobacco-products (OTP) category ahead of cigars and e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco represents a major opportunity for convenience stores going forward. With cigarette volume declining in c-stores and vape shops stealing business with electronic nicotine devices,

e-cigarette colors

Training Key to Boosting Accessory Sales

Though the category offers high margins and caters to loyal customers, tobacco accessories often go unnoticed by store employees. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Lighters, rolling papers and e-cigarette accessories offer convenience stores the opportunity to upsell customers at the counter. Unfortunately, the large majority of convenience store employees get little to no training when

gum

Getting Gum Back on Track

While it’s still an important category in convenience stores, the bubble has burst on gum sales over the past two years. The good news is manufacturers are doubling down on their efforts to grow the category with new products and better pricing. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Gum continues to prove something of an enigma

smokelesscan

MST Offers Hope for Traditional Tobacco

MST sales remain strong, and analysts are calling for another solid year in 2014 despite regulatory efforts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor While moist smokeless tobacco (MST) sales are projected to enjoy a strong 2014, possible government legislation and public health campaigns could converge to slow its momentum. To maximize sales now, industry proponents insist

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