Coffee Sales Hotter Than Ever

Hot dispensed beverages, most notably coffee, remain a lynchpin of the convenience store foodservice business and a key to its continued growth. Growing sales will be a crucial task in the months and years ahead. Chicago-based research firm Mintel International reported that c-stores and other retail coffee marketers must begin to actively recruit younger drinkers


Roller Grills Grow Up

Thanks to a surge of new products focused on ethnic diversity, the roller grill—the original anchor for most convenience store hot food programs—is hotter than ever before. And the one thing c-store operators like and appreciate most about roller grills is that you hardly notice they’re there. Grills don’t take up much room and can

Craft Sales Drive Beer

Following a solid 2009, the Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, reported strong 2010 numbers for small and independent craft brewers. Dollar sales were up 12% in the first half of 2010, compared to 9% growth during the same period in 2009. Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew

Sales Increases in Store for Juices and Teas

Watch out, soft drinks. Teas and juices are looking to capture health-conscious consumers in 2011 with flavor innovation and antioxidant power. The refrigerated juices and drinks category in the c-store sector saw total dollar sales of $423,746,400, according to SymphonyIRI data for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, up 5.73% compared to the previous

Poultry Powers Food Sales

Versatility makes chicken one of the most popular segments in foodservice. Chicago-based market research firm Mintel International reported new menu items in convenience stores and QSRs in 2010 were chicken-based as these retail segments expanded to compete with supermarkets. Mintel’s QSR report noted that 43% of respondents said they wanted healthier menu options at restaurants

Pizza Projecting Upward

QSR pizza sales have hovered at $33–$36 billion for the last few years and projections for the upcoming year are very strong, Pizza Marketplace reported. The grim economy of the past couple of years has not crushed the spirit of folks who like to eat out. Although pizza sales slowed in recent months due to

Positive Outlook for Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated soft drink sales dipped in 2010, but are expected to show positive growth in 2011. “Because the economy is better and products like Coke Zero have done well with customers, we are predicting 2.3% growth in 2011 for carbonated beverages,” said Garima Goel Lal, senior consumer analyst for Mintel International. Overall sales of carbonated

Dispensed Beverages Thrive on Innovation and Marketing

Dispensed cold and frozen beverages enjoyed another solid year of growth in 2010, and 2011 is shaping up to be another strong year, according to the NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y. “Our latest research is telling us 3% of consumers going into a convenience store are purchasing a frozen beverage or slushy drink,” said

Enhancing the Possibilities of Bottled Water

Bottled water sales nationwide continue to rise. Sales in convenience stores reached nearly $2.9 billion for the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, 2010, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a growth of 2.19%. Of that, more than $2.6 billion came from convenience/PET still waters. Leading brands include Glacéau, Aquafina, Dasani, Nestlé Pure Life, Poland Spring, SoBe and

Loyalty and Rewards Come of Age

Gaining and retaining loyal customers in 2011 is crucial. According to Chicago-based research firm Mintel International, 35% of customers in the U.S. say their choice of store is determined by special offers or discounts. This means convenience stores need to find new and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd. This is one reason

Energizing Cooler Sales

Maybe it’s the unusually trying times we live in that have Americans reaching so often for beverages that bolster their energy levels. Regardless, it’s convenience store owners that are reaping the rewards. Sales of energy drinks in c-stores topped $5.6 billion, up 14.29%, for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, according to SymphonyIRI Group

Industry Posts Strong Sales Gains

Despite the challenging economy, convenience store retailers enjoyed a solid year of growth in key categories like foodservice, frozen beverages and smokeless tobacco. By John Lofstock, Editor. While sales across all retail remained sluggish for much of 2010, the year ended on a relatively good note for c-store operators. Sales and gross margin contributions from

Energy Shot Sales Surge

Although some c-store operators admit to being worried about regulators turning their focus to energy shots, many have voiced the opinion that the category has at least another year of strong growth ahead of it. According to numbers from SymphonyIRI Group for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, energy shots saw a whopping 35.58%

Par Mar Fuel Promotion Goes Viral

Social networking provides a cost-effective way for the West Virginia company to interact with customers and drive traffic. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Par Mar Stores is wooing customers into its forecourts and onto its Facebook and Twitter pages with its Face to Face Fuel promotion, which launched in mid-January. The goal of the promotion

Connecting With Your Customers

Loyalty and Facebook are changing the way convenience store retailers are communicating with today’s consumers. By Greg Ehrlich, Contributing Editor. Smaller convenience store chains with limited resources often sit on the sidelines waiting to see how their larger counterparts embrace new technologies. They wait to see whether the new initiatives make it past a pilot

Equipped for the Foodservice Battle

Whether operating a hot or cold food program, new equipment enhances quality, productivity and profitability. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. Over the past few years, the economic climate has discouraged many foodservice operators from investing in new equipment or product offerings. But that situation may be changing. Some convenience retailers are testing new tools and

MACS Bursts Onto the C-Store Scene

It’s been a busy first year for Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores, which  is set to roll out a proprietary foodservice program and is developing a unified retail image. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores (MACS) might not be the oldest company in the industry, but it’s certainly poised for growth in 2011 as it

Tracking Convenience Store Customers

MSA and Paradigm Sample, in partnership with Convenience Store Decisions, are drilling down with fine-grained questions to understand consumer shopping behavior. By Alice Greene, Management Science Associates (MSA). Grocery shopper purchase decisions are highly influenced by brand loyalty, just as price sensitivity prevails with warehouse club members. But what drives convenience-store shoppers’ decisions when it

Technology Driving Cash Management

Retailers are using smart safes and strict corporate policies to protect store employees against robbery attempts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. While theft attempts are inevitable for convenience stores, especially those operating 24 hours, losing  hard-earned cash shouldn’t have to be. Since retail safes were introduced and combined with smarter money-handling practices, store owners have

Driving Business with Branding

As competition increases from drug stores, fast-food restaurants and coffeehouse, communicating a clear branding strategy is timely and vital. The forecourt is more important than ever, especially as gas prices are rising at a fast clip. Fewer trips mean fewer opportunities to market through the forecourt, so retailers must use every strategy to drive store

Renewed Optimism for Cigars

Amid the chaos of legislation and taxation, convenience store retailers remain optimistic they can retain OTP customers and even pick up some new ones trading down from cigarettes. By: Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Not much been predictable about the tobacco category over the past 18 months. Huge taxes increases have renewed questions about just how

FDA Enforcement Has Started, What Should You Do?

The We Card Program offers seven steps c-store retailers need to take right now. By: Doug Anderson, President, The We Card Program. Before FDA regulations took effect, it was enough to prevent an underage tobacco sale. The question, “Is this customer old enough to buy tobacco?” ruled the day. That way of thinking falls short

Performance Reviews: All Pain, No Gain

Few activities in the workplace polarize like employee reviews. Some see them as subjective, one-sided and something companies should eliminate entirely. By Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor. I despise performance reviews. In my 30-plus years of running a business, speaking and consulting, I’ve found that my personal distaste for performance reviews is shared by so many

Tapping the Power of Candy

Despite the economic slowdown, chocolate remains a relatively inexpensive indulgence for cautious consumers. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. Americans aren’t eating out as much as they used to, but they are eating more chocolate, which means the time has come for retailers who haven’t already done so to rethink, revamp and restock their chocolate sets.

Strong Outlook for Frozen Beverages

Fueled by new flavors and supported by high-quality equipment, the frozen category shows unlimited potential. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. It’s no secret that frozen beverages has been one of the hotter categories in the convenience store industry over the past three years. The good news is that NACS is predicting a sunny forecast for