Tim Cote

Keeping Candy Relevant

Tim Cote might not be a candy traditionalist, but he knows how to make confections appealing to Plaid Pantry customers. By David Bennett, Senior Editor The traditional approach to selling candy is going the way of Root Beer Barrels and Charleston Chews. Retailers who are satisfied with a few racks of the normal candy offerings

Ellagrin

Winning at Word of Mouth

Keeping customers engaged on social media can drive WOM and increase traffic at the store. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor Social media is crucial for staying top of mind for customers and driving word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising for your chain, which many customers today trust more than traditional marketing. Cindy Morrison, social media strategist with social

OpenPantry

Reinventing Open Pantry

Longtime employees assume control of the daily operations of Open Pantry stores, while CEO Buhler provides financial backing. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor After 17 years as president and CEO of Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin Inc., Robert Buhler at the beginning of the year turned the corporate reins over to his longtime, right-hand

Parfait

Breakfast Carry Over

Cereal sales are suffering as consumers look for more portable breakfast options like egg sandwiches and Greek yogurt. With the right mix of products and value, convenience stores are well positioned to capture a greater share of the breakfast business. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor In a recent survey, NPD Group researchers found that American

S30_U-SwirlArea

Equipping Your Kitchen

A growing number of manufacturers are making foodservice equipment sized to fit smaller footprints required by convenience stores. Moreover, retailers are using these machines to make the most of their limited foodservice space. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Kyle Lore, corporate chef for North Salt Lake, Utah-based Maverik Convenience Stores, is not an impulsive person,

SONY DSC

Weathering Change

Automotive and marketing advances are challenging c-store car washes to keep pace. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor The calendar officially states spring has sprung, and residents in the mountains, across the prairies, all the way to the New England coast welcome the reprieve from winter’s harsh grip. Not only did the bitter cold try

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

chips

Chips Lead Salty Snack Sales

Chips never seem to go out of favor. When people crave a salty crunch, they often reach for chips, be it potato, corn or tortilla. In fact, “craving” is the reason behind 58% of salty snack purchases, according to research by the Mintel International Group. “While there remains a concern about the nutritional content of

meatsnacks

C-stores Top Seller for Meat Snacks

Snacks no longer serve just to satisfy a sweet or salty craving. Today’s consumers also want a meal substitute that keeps appetites satiated for a few hours. “They want high-protein snacks that are portable,” said Jared Koerten, senior analyst for Euromonitor International Inc. It’s this attitude that has made meat snacks one of the fastest-growing

nuts

Consumers Go Nuts for Healthy Snacks

For several years, news reports and advertising campaigns have touted the nutritional value of nuts and seeds, and obviously the public is paying attention. A recent survey by Technomic Inc. concluded that more than half of the convenience store customers interviewed stated they purposely sought out healthier snack options, including seeds and nuts, than they

loyalty

Are Loyalty Programs Less Engaging?

Sometimes known as a rewards, points or advantage card, a loyalty program is a marketing effort aimed at cultivating customer commitment and encouraging ongoing business. But while many customers sign up, few are really active, according to Colloquy, the Cincinnati-based research and publication organization for the loyalty industry. While the number of U.S. loyalty program

prepaid

Prepaid Card Demand Grows

Demand for prepaid and gift cards is expected to continue to grow in 2015. Gift cards, with their ease of use, have long been popular among convenience store customers. Growth in the prepaid category stems from the availability of new services and consumers seeking alternatives for financial services outside of traditional banks. “Prepaid as a

Woman pay by credit card

EMV Deadline Leads POS Trends

Mobile payment technology and going paperless will impact point-of-sale (POS) and back office trends in 2015. But, the big focus this year for convenience stores is the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline to become compliant with EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip technology. U.S. retailers are expected to spend more than $8 billion on POS devices,

TCS Gas Theft Prevention

Loss Prevention: Handling It Electronically

The No. 1 threat to convenience stores is organized retail crime (ORC). And though a 2014 National Retail Federation survey indicated that retailers affected by crime was under 90% for the first time in six years, c-stores remain a top target. “Often the c-store industry is the first stop for this type of criminal, who

iPhone6Plus-PF-iPhone6-PF-Passbook-PR-PRINT

Electronic Payments Moving Mainstream

Despite much hype, electronic payment in the U.S. is still rolling along in first gear, compared to some other economies. Today, more than 87% of U.S. consumers own a cell phone, and the use of smartphones continues to grow rapidly, according to a recent FDIC report. But there are two factors necessary for increasing the

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

Gum

Gum, Mints Require Creativity

The months to come will see c-store operators increasingly taking steps to restore or replace flagging sales of gum, either by crafting a more persuasive marketing message for older consumers or replacing some SKUs with popular mints. In the 52 weeks ending Nov. 30 2014, the regular gum segment—with $510.6 million in sales—remained much smaller

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

Gas Pump Over White

Alternative Fuels Expanding Market

The Fuels Institute predicts that E85 sales will increase from 196 million gallons in 2013 to between 400 million and 4.4 billion gallons in 2023. Today, between 2,685 and 3,349 retail fuel stations in the U.S. sell E85 flex fuel, according to the Fuels Institute report, “E85 A Market Performance Analysis and Forecast.” The report

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

Beer Flight.

Diversity Brings Change to Beer Market

The once-popular domestic beer segment, still referred to in the industry as “popular” beer, has steadily been losing market share the last few years. In fact, “big beer’s lagging performance is hindered most by declining volume sales in the massive light beer segment (49% market share),” said Beth Bloom, food and beverage analyst for the

Bottles of energy sport drinks

Healthy Drinks Spur Big Business

A vast majority of consumers consider bottled water—in all of its forms—to be healthier than soft drinks, according to newly released findings from a survey conducted online by Harris Poll of more than 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older for the International Bottled Water Association. By product type, bottled waters are classified as

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