How to Brew a Better Coffee Program

More convenience stores are expanding their coffee programs to deliver quality and value to customers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience store operators are growing increasingly creative with their coffee programs— emphasizing quality and variety, while engaging and educating consumers on the latest category offerings. According to a recent Packaged Facts report, innovations are providing

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How Meat Snacks Are Evolving

Because consumers have a variety of options, flavors and textures to choose from, this hearty category promises to be even more profitable in 2016. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor New flavors, healthier options and combination packs have created a marketing force that promises to drive meat snacks sales even higher in 2016. With more emphasis

What’s Ahead For Cigarette Sales?

If increased cigarette shipments are any indication, category sales could be robust in 2016. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor This past October, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reported that cigarette shipments for the first half of 2015 had increased from the same period the previous year—the first year-over-year increase in cigarette shipments

Art and Crafts

Craft beers continue to entice convenience customers with homestyle brands and broader selections. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Craft beer has been a surprising boon to the convenience store channel for the last couple of years. As more specialty beer options have flowed, consumers have spent more and retailers have responded in kind with a

How To Succeed With Smokeless

Because of consumer loyalty, smokeless tobacco is holding its own in terms of category sales. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor Sales of smokeless tobacco products remain steady at convenience stores, as many smokers seek alternative tobacco products for areas where cigarettes are not allowed. But the category continues to face hurdles when it comes to

How To Win With Coffee

The best means for c-stores to edge out the competition lies in promoting quality and providing better value.  By Howard Riell, Associated Editor When considering a quality coffee product, differentiating the offer from those of competing convenience stores and quick-service restaurants (QSR) is vastly important, experts say. However, too much thinking and tinkering can result

How To Entice Sales With Meat Snacks

Craving more protein, meat snack-hungry consumers are boosting convenience store profits. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor protein-packed snacks, and meat snack manufacturers are responding with new and varied flavors, from gourmet to bold. To maximize sales, canny retailers are using promotions, packaging, consumer demographics and merchandising to make the most of impulse opportunities. The meat

How to Appeal to Snackers

From candy and chips to popcorn and jerky, U.S. snacking isn’t defined by one consumer trend. Still, convenience stores are positioned to capture the bulk of them. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor There are few things closer to Americans’ hearts than snacking—in all its textures and flavors. So, it’s not surprising that the snack category

How to Increase Cigarette Sales

Cigarettes remain a staple of c-store business despite the constant scrutiny the category attracts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Despite increasing regulations and an incremental erosion of its once wide consumer base, cigarettes in the past year have shown a remarkable ability for bouncing back. Cigarette sales at convenience stores for the 52 weeks ending

How to Bake Up New Sales

As customers demand fresh and healthy fare, c-store operators share how they’re adapting to customer preferences. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor More convenience store operators are making bakery a priority, either through in-store programs or partnering with national brands and local bakeries that convert their locations into destination stops. “We have recently added a site

How to Compete in the Health and Beauty Categories

Health and beauty aids can rouse additional in-store sales with the right presentation. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Though retail channels continue to blur, one category where convenience stores still trail their mass, drug and dollar store counterparts is health and beauty aids (HBA). One advantage that does work in c-stores’ favor is, of course,

How to Control Operating Costs

The two largest expenses a convenience retailer often faces are labor and inventory, but costs can creep up anywhere. Experienced c-stores, however, have learned how to combat such costs. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor It is a truism in business that you cannot save your way to prosperity. Somebody probably also said once that containing

How to Win With Wine

Convenience stores are paying heed to customers’ thirst for better wine selections. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Wine usually isn’t top of mind for consumers when they stop at a convenience store—which is why operators need to draw their attention to the category, which can provide some good incremental sales. This past August, Technomic reported

How to Strengthen Smokeless Sales

Despite hurdles, smokeless tobacco sales continue to grow. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As America continues its love/hate relationship with cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products (OTP) sales continue to inch higher. At the same time, smokeless and other forms of tobacco continue to face hurdles in the form of local restrictions. For

How C-Stores Are Equipping Themselves for Success

Foodservice is becoming increasingly integral to c-stores, and key to any foodservice program is possessing and maintaining the right equipment for the job. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor In the face of traditional thin fuel margins and flagging cigarette sales, foodservice has continually grown as a way for many c-stores to maintain decent profit levels.

How Legislation and Taxes Are Affecting Cigars

C-store operators looking to grow their cigar business need to keep one eye on their customers and another on legislators looking to raise OTP taxes. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Several states continue to consider excise taxes for cigars and other tobacco products (OTP), while others look at raising the smoking age and enacting outright

Are Energy Drinks Still Delivering Oomph?

Demand for energy drinks continues to push sales upward, making the category a star performer. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Energy drink sales are up, even as larger, more established, mass-market categories like carbonated soft drinks and fruit beverages have dipped. For convenience store operators, the message couldn’t be clearer. “Energy drinks experienced solid volume

How To Entice Customers With Frozen Drinks

Bundling and smart marketing help keep frozen dispensed beverage sales hot as summer arrives.  By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Sales of frozen dispensed beverages in convenience stores show no sign of slowing down, with flavor extensions and in-store marketing resonating with consumers of all ages. “The frozen dispensed category at convenience stores continues to soar

How to Push Smokeless Sales Higher

Smokeless tobacco sales continue to grow at convenience stores, which are pressing their advantage over competing retail channels. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor While the overall cigarette smoking prevalence has declined in recent years, the overall use of smokeless tobacco has remained strong. That’s good news for the convenience store channel. The main types of

How Good Supply Can Lead to More Cigar Sales

C-stores are learning that good supply and staying attentive to customer purchasing patterns are driving cigar sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Cigar sales are trending upward and c-stores are responding in kind by adding SKUs, honing assortments, maintaining prices, offering fresher product in resealable packs and stocking a popular, ever-expanding variety of flavors. IRI’s

C-store Retailers See Solid Smokeless Tobacco Sales

Improving the smokeless section by updating products and increasing promotions can help drive convenience store retailers’ smokeless tobacco categories. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Information Resources Inc. (IRI)’s Infoscan data shows that for the 52-week period ending April 19, 2015, c-stores rang up nearly $5.7 billion in smokeless tobacco sales, an increase of 5.8%. Of

No Fees Agree with Patrons

Financial service programs, including fee-free ATMs, can help boost c-store offerings. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor From wire transfers and check cashing to money order sales, bill paying and, increasingly, no-fee ATMs, financial services continue to add convenience for consumers and more in-store sales for retailers. In fact, ATMs—especially those of the no fee variety—can

Cashing in With Digital

Digital gift cards provide an opportunity for convenience stores to improve customer service, appeal to a younger demographic and add to in-store sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor With more emphasis on speed and convenience, customers increasingly enjoy being able to pay on the go, with a swipe of their phones. According to a report

Combating Onsite Crime

Technology and training are helping make stores less vulnerable to lawbreakers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Because of the nature of how convenience retailers must conduct business, stores are prime targets for theft. However, with effective employee training combined with better technologies on the market, such as smart safes and advanced video systems, retailers are

Smokeless Growth Continues

Customer loyalty and smart retailing are helping the category prosper. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Despite the 2015 federal budget proposal calling for tax increases on other tobacco products, which could negatively impact the category, c-stores report continued growth in the smokeless tobacco category known for brand loyalty. According to the Chicago-based market research firm

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