neapolitan ice cream

Dairy Remains a Patron Destination

Dairy products like ice cream and milk can prove productive parts of the c-store sales mix in the months to come provided retailers and suppliers are open to aggressive merchandising, flexible pricing and flavor innovation. According to Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation for Chicago-based research and consulting firm Technomic Inc., 73% of consumers

Chocolate pieces

Chocolate Still Sweet as Sales Stay Steady

Chocolate candy sales totaled $2.66 billion for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 28, 2014, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI) data. That’s a jump of 3.2% compared to same period the previous year. Unit sales for the same period totaled 1.83 billion, up 0.47% over the same period. Meanwhile, non-chocolate candy brought in dollar sales

hbc

HBA Set To Grow This Year

Convenience stores will continue to do steady business with the health and beauty aid (HBA) category in 2015 and beyond as long as they stick to their knitting: good assortment, smaller package sizes, sharper merchandising, dependable employee assistance and seasonal products in stock when needed. Notably broad, the HBA category encompasses a slew of home

car wash service

Car Washes Trending Upward

An improving economy has helped buoy car wash sales in some regions—a trend expected to continue in 2015. “We are seeing consistent top-line growth over the past 18 months—car wash counts (cars washed) and average ticket (average money spent by the consumer per wash) have both been trending upward,” said Eric Wulf, CEO of the

Halogen bulb,fluorescent bulb and LED bulb

LED Pushes Lighting Advances Forward

For NOCO Express, last December’s grand opening of its newly rebuilt store in Grand Island, N.Y. marks the evolution of its stores—and on a lesser scale—its commitment to more efficient lighting. The renovation took the formerly 950-square-foot store to 4,000 square feet, and included environmentally-friendly building technologies to reduce energy consumption. These include low-watt LED

US dollar money stack dispensed from imaginary atm cash machine

ATMs Help C-Stores Cash In

The National ATM Council Inc. estimates there are upwards of 425,000 ATMs throughout the U.S. The majority are independently owned or operated as opposed to those operated by financial institutions. In fact, as banks have broadened online services, traffic to brick-and-mortar branches has softened, including visits to walk-up or drive-up ATMs. This situation has prompted

Taco

Customers Like Hispanic Food Options

Hispanic Americans are expected to make up 31% of the U.S. population by 2060, reported the U.S. Census Bureau. And, according to Forbes magazine and other media, they are expected to have $1.5 trillion in buying power this year, a 50% increase from 2010, according to Nielsen research. The NPD Group forecasts that the consumption

chicken

Chicken Sales Fly High

There’s no doubt that chicken is the nation’s No. 1 protein. According to the National Chicken Council, Americans consume 83.6 pounds of it per capita, more than anyone else in the world. In its 2014 Consumer Survey, the Council reported that 89% of consumers said they ate chicken during a two-week period. And they ate

RollerGrill

Roller Grill Keeps Rolling Along

Despite increasing competition from made-to-order items, roller grill is still a c-store foodservice mainstay. And for good reason. In a recent Convenience Store Foodservice report by Mintel International research company, at least half of the respondents said they had and would order hot dogs or corn dogs at convenience stores. “I believe that consumers have

Pizza

Pizza Rises to the Challenge

Growth has been slow but steady over the past five years in the $38.7 billion business that is the pizza category. By 2019, that number is expected to rise to $42.6 billion, according to the IBISWorld research firm. At LaCrosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip, the proprietary Cheese Mountain pizza, introduced about 10 years ago, today accounts

Coffee

Coffee Outlook Is Perking Up

Last year, Americans drank an estimated 6.5 billion gallons of coffee, a modest increase in volume over the year before. An estimated 9.5% of that coffee was purchased from convenience stores, said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for the New York-based Beverage Marketing Corp. “Modest growth” is the description Hemphill used again to project

Donuts

Bakery Category Produces Fresher Gross Margins

Convenience store profits often rise higher with the right bakery program. However, figuring out the best route to profits takes planning. Some convenience stores are expanding their bakery beyond pre-packaged snack cakes through proprietary programs or just partnering with the local bakery in town. Some chains have invested significant capital in bakery programs. The total

Sandwich

Sandwich Sales Scale Higher

Sandwiches are big business for Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA convenience stores in Lawrence, Kan. In fact, they’re so big that he just opened a second standalone shop for his popular proprietary Sandbar Subs concept. Overall, sandwich sales are growing 8% every month for Zaremba at both the Zarco USA stores and standalone restaurants.

coffee3

Brewing a Coffee Strategy Pays Dividends

A well-run program can help customers start the day with a smile and bring them back again and again. It can also anchor a breakfast program, serve as a profit center and prove a key point of differentiation—assuming it is done right. Doing it right means starting with top-quality products, having all the condiments and

gum and mints

Mints Offer Optimism in Confectionery Segment

While a staple in convenience stores, gum sales continued their decline last year, down 7.2% in dollar sales and almost 8% in unit sales from 2012, according to data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). Dollar sales of regular gum declined a little over 6%, unit sales more than 10%, while sugarless decreased 7.4% in dollar

chocolate

New Products Drive Chocolate Sales

Despite a host of new product introductions and package sizes, chocolate SKUs are holding strong at convenience stores. At Zarco 66, different product configurations and package types and sizes of long-time favorite brands are keeping the category fresh and appealing to a wide range of consumers, said Scott Zaremba, owner of the 10-store Kansas chain.

health and beauty

Capitalizing on Health and Beauty Trends

With healthcare capturing so many headlines these days, the health and beauty category (HBC) has taken on added importance in the c-store set. Fueling much of the growth: smaller package sizes that save shoppers money and stimulate impulse sales. The category—from shampoos and skin creams to cough drops and cold remedies—has always had its rightful

milk splash

Mixed Results for the Dairy Business

With dairy consumption in America trending downward, c-store operators will need to sharpen their merchandising and promotional skills, and provide consumers with alternatives, to keep business brisk. “I can tell you that while the ice cream business is solid, the overall dairy business is declining rapidly,” said Richard Reilly, president of family-run Reilly’s Dairy Inc.

iced tea

Tea Sales Remain Solid While Packaged Juice Falters

While innovation is a valued component to every category, the juices and teas segment of packaged beverages seems to be particularly prone to new twists and creative concepts. Largely in response to consumers looking for more functionality and added value in their libations, drink manufacturers have been rolling out juices and teas infused with vitamins,

energy shots

Energy Shots Growth Slows, But Remains Steady

Selling energy shots is highly advantageous. The small package size means retailers can place them in multiple locations without taking away from other items. Because most people drink them warm, they don’t need to take valuable cooler space. And the standard $2.99 price gives them a nice ring. Retailers report brisk sales to everyone from

Energy

Big Brands Boost Energy Drinks Success

Soft drink sales might be flat, but thanks to energy drinks, the convenience store cold vault is as popular as ever. The energy drinks category saw dollar sales in convenience stores of $6.67 billion for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 1, 2013, according to IRI Convenience All Scan data. Dollar sales were up 5.94% from

fountain4

Innovation Drives Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages

More than ever, consumers are looking for variety, convenience, speedy service and value when it comes to purchasing cold and frozen dispensed beverages, said Tandy Arrant, business manager for Lubbock, Texas-based United Express convenience stores.   Over the past year, Arrant said, the stores have experienced double-digit sales increases in this category, and he expects

carbonated

Despite Popularity, Carbonated Soft Drinks Facing Challenges

Not very long ago, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) were the rage of a young Baby Boomer generation. Coke and Pepsi ruled the cold door, and life was good for convenience store retailers. But that day has passed, as the category has been flat—or even in decline—for several years, forcing retailers to reset coolers to capitalize

water

Bottled Water, Sports Drinks Remain Strong

Make no mistake—the move away from carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) to what consumers perceive as healthier beverage options is for real. This includes a shift from diet CSDs as well as full-caloried offerings. And one of the major beneficiaries of this move has been the bottled water category, including flavored and enhanced offerings. According to

Beer2

Craft, Imports Propel Beer

Beer has long been a staple of convenience stores—a destination stop for adult consumers looking to pick up a 6- or 12-pack on the go. But over the years, consumer trends have changed exactly what they’re picking up. The first change came in the 1970s and early ‘80s, when the Baby Boomer generation matured, and

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