Taipei, Taiwan - January 8, 2012: This is a studio shot of a can of Rockstar Energy Drink made by Rockstar Inc. isolated on white.

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

Pomegranite Smoothie sitting on white ready to drink in a to go cup

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

smokeless

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

Cigars

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

smokeless

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

atm

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

gift card gifts aimed at mums, dads, children, teenagers etc!

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

CCTV operating with money in background

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

Snus tobacco

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

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

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