In the Days of Old…

Under attack from taxes, credit card fees and even some of our branded partners, retailers must continue to fight on. by Jim Callahan, Convenience Store Solutions In the days of old before crude was “liquid gold” and drive-offs were unheard of, we had low taxes and no faxes and just two blends to deal with.

Retooling the Retail Machine

CHICAGO — Research firm IRI has released the first in a series of studies gauging consumer shopping and purchasing behavior, giving manufacturers and retailers new insights on how they can respond in a market where increasing food and energy prices are uprooting the retail landscape. The study, “IRI Times & Trends Special Report: Competing in

Washington-area 7-Eleven Wants Slurpee Stardom

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A 7-Eleven store in Kennewick, Wash., sold more Slurpee drinks in 2007 than any other 7-Eleven in the U.S., and it’s on track to attain worldwide dominance in the Slurpee sales. 7-Eleven expects that the Kennewick Slurpee Factory, as the store has been unofficially named, will become the No. 1 store in

Boo Koo, Coke Team To Launch Energy Drink

ADDISON, Texas — Beverage manufacturer Boo Koo Holdings Inc. said it’s partnering with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, the nation’s second largest Coca-Cola bottler, to launch the new BooKoo Burner+ energy drink. Coke Consolidated will distribute the new drink to more 2,000 of its current convenience store customers throughout Nashville, Tenn.; Mobile, Ala.; Panama City, Fla.

Chester’s Opens in Wine Country

DELANO, Calif. – An area known for its expansive vineyards and great wine, Delano, Calif. has now become the latest expansion site for Chester’s International. The fried chicken company chose Akal Travel Plaza in Delano to install its latest store, which officially opened on May 30 in a grand opening ceremony. “Chester’s, a brand that

New West Petroleum Selling 32 Sites

New West Petroleum LLC, of Sacramento, Calif., is selling 32 sites on the West Coast, including 30 convenience stores and two undeveloped parcels, according to NRC Realty Advisors LLC, the Chicago-based company hired by New West to coordinate the sale. The 30 convenience stores include 22 fee-owned properties, seven leasehold properties and one fee/leasehold combination.

Red Bull Charges Into Cola Category

Red Bull is hoping its new Red Bull Cola, debuting in Las Vegas this month, will cut into a share of the mainstream cola crowd, brandweek.com reported. Red Bull Cola will be 100% natural and command a premium price, its formula consisting of kola nut and coca leaf. The debut comes as Red Bull has

QSR Magazine Releases Fast-food Survey Results

QSR Magazine has released its annual survey of consumer preferences and attitudes on quick-service restaurants, examining, among other things: how often consumers eat fast food, the factors most important in choosing a restaurant, favorite fast-food menu items, whether fast food has gotten healthier and more. "The yearly consumer survey is a great way for restaurant

CFTC Scrutinizing Crude Oil Trading, Energy Futures

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced last week a number of initiatives to increase transparency of the energy futures markets, while the Washington Post reported that the Commission had been investigating crude oil trading, storage and transportation for the past six months with a focus on possible "futures market manipulation." The Commodity Futures

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

Alternative Energy (Shots and bars): Buying Energy by the Shot

Make room for the new kid on the block: Energy shots, those concentrated versions of energy drinks that are beginning to mirror the high sales figures of their parent product. Granted, some customers buy energy shots to add to their energy drink in a kind of shot-and-chaser strategy. But for an increasing number of buyers,

Faith-Fueled and Furious

At a jail in Valparaiso, Ind., there’s a rebel musician who’s probably wishing he’d sung just a little bit louder. At a church in San Francisco, there’s a holy man wishing he and his flock had prayed just a little bit harder. And in a backwater town just outside Kansas City, Mo., there’s a new

Cold & Frozen dispensed beverages: Mixing it Up in Cold Dispensed

Average per-store sales of cold dispensed beverages experienced modest gains that shouldn’t give retailers pause when they manage this category, as leading c-store chains are showing that big profits can spurt from some tiny fountain heads. Ricker’s c-stores, for instance, a 30-store chain headquartered in Anderson, Ind., has shaped much of its identity on its

Carbonated Soft Drinks: Strong, But Losing Ground

Most carbonated soft drink companies found 2007 a good year, but not because of CSD sales in the U.S. Increases in carbonated beverage sales outside North America plus profits from their non-carbonated acquisitions are keeping Coke and Pepsi strong, despite the introduction of new products such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Max, industry analysts

The Customer: Wine Appetites and Beer Wallets

The 2008 consumer, complex and roiling in its many needstates, has become a multi-headed hydra whose rituals and habits are being altered by external forces. It is, however, a creature predictable on at least one front: It always appreciates the convenience and value of the neighborhood c-store. Pinched by rising costs of fuel, food and

Cigarettes: Taxation Taking a Toll

Cigarettes by far continue to be the top in-store category based on sales dollars. On a monthly basis, the industry per store average for 2007 was $39,127. However, its gross profit contribution slipped to 3.2% to $6,152 falling behind package beverages ($6,526.) The reason tobacco fell to No. 2 is simply taxation. Since 2002, 43

Bottled Water: New Water Pours Forth

Conventional wisdom says the bottled water market is flooded, but that may not be the case at the high end, according to Beverage Marketing, which reports that high-end brands like Iceland Spring and Iceland Glacial, Voss and Isbre appear eager to parlay an exotic source and upscale packaging into an above-premium business, much as Fiji

The Competition: Discretionary Spending Looms Large

For the past decade, the list of retailers that have cut into the convenience store industry’s consumer base has included the usual suspects: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreens and a slew of other national brands in a smattering of channels. C-stores are predictably pitted against those same powerhouses in 2008, but the environment is far more

Other Tobacco products: OTP On The Rise

A surefire marketing strategy: Develop a need where consumers don’t even know they have one. The flipside: Wait until a need becomes so apparent, so prevalent and so overwhelming that it can no longer be justifiably ignored as a legitimate need. A pocketful of lawsuits and a barrage of tax increases in its portfolio, and

Juices and teas: Fruit Drinks Flat, Teas Growing

Information Resources Inc. (IRI) reported that the total count for the sparkling juice category is $78 million and rising. Even so, it’s a bit difficult to tell how much traction the average c-store retailer can get from them given the huge number of beverage choices available in this category today. Other than specialty sparkling beverages

Car Wash and Motor Fuels: Fueling Frustration

Fuel price volatility is here to stay. Marketers must learn how to manage it to their advantage. That was the cold, hard message conveyed in the 2008 NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. Marketers are urged to pay attention to sales volumes, but also focus on gross margin dollars and to always look at

Candy, gum and mints: Candy Continues to be Dominant

The U.S. retail confectionery category generated approximately $29 billion in sales in 2007 and the profit margin for the category was approximately 35%, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) U.S. Confectionery Market report. Convenience stores accounted for 15%, or $4.5 billion, of overall candy sales in 2007, surpassing drug stores and dollar stores, but

Fighting Through the Pain

Everybody wants a piece of the action. That was among the key messages my father taught me when he was running his business. Though he only had three pumps and four service bays, there was no shortage of business partners or associates who wanted a cut when times were good, but were nowhere to be

Security and operations: Security and operations: Security and operations: Operating Costs Rise Across the Board

The cost of operating a convenience store is up significantly thanks in part to a number of factors, the most glaring being interchange fees and credit card costs. But labor and utilities also experience significantly higher year-on-year gains. The industry’s operating expenses on a per-store, per-month basis rose across the board in 2007, according to

Salty And Meat Snacks: Healthy Trend in Snacks Sales

Like other retail channels, the convenience store industry is witnessing a change in consumers’ snack choices. "We’re definitely seeing a shift to healthier snacks, but I think it’s a little slower than some of the other channels just because our customer base is still predominantly younger males who aren’t as much into healthier eating as

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