Understanding What Your Customers are Buying

MSA and Paradigm Sample, in partnership with Convenience Store Decisions, examine the market basket of 18-34-year-old convenience store shoppers. By Trish Temmerman, Contributing Editor. Numerous reports are being written about connecting to and interacting with the Millennial (18-34 year-old) generation. These Millennials, numbering 71 million-plus according to the 2010 U.S. Census, are a key shopper

Coffee Consumption Surging

One in four coffee drinkers are now choosing gourmet products daily as younger consumers embrace upscale brews. By John Lofstock, Editor.  Coffee consumption tracks strong and steady, according to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) National Coffee Drinking Trends, with sales data suggesting a solid footing for future growth. Rebounding youth consumption, strong gourmet allegiance and

The 2012 Convenience Store Foodservice Report

Top-quartile chains continue to post strong sales across all food segments, while retailers express confidence for healthy category growth throughout 2012. By David Bishop, Contributing Editor. We all know times are tough. The consumer is looking for greater value at a time when retailers are focusing on being competitive without losing their shirts. Retailers recognize

New Food Technology is Hot (and Cool)

Convenience stores are embracing the latest equipment as they look to keep up with QSRs and fast casual restaurants. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. In the summer, customers line up from morning until evening at Maverik convenience stores to take the f’real machine for a spin. From the time the North Salt Lake City-based chain

Salty Snack Sales Surging

Healthier fare is certainly not the only trend in packaged snack foods, but it is by far the most important and widespread one affecting convenience stores. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Salty snacks and chips is abuzz with activity: new products and line extensions, multi-million-dollar advertising and promotional campaigns and innovative in-store merchandising. When combined

Building Bottled Water Sales

New products and core beverages will always drive cold vault sales. Retailers have to know how to market them effectively to maximize profitability. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Bottled water sales continue to rise steadily, which is good news for overall packaged beverage sales in convenience stores. NACS reported recently that in the wake of

Chocolate Sales Boost Confections

Despite the weak economy, consumers continue to indulge in candy. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. The confectionery retail market has grown across all trade channels, but convenience stores have outpaced the overall retail market. Iconic brands (Hershey, Nestlé, Mars) prowl the chocolate landscape and provide consumers an affordable indulgence in a bitter economy. According to

Designing a Winning OTP Strategy

Convenience stores have evolved from being a destination for cigarettes to a destination for tobacco products as a whole. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. It was inevitable that the conversation on convenience store cigar sales would shift eventually from rapid growth to supplier relations, category management and marketing. As cigarette regulations and prices and taxes

Mean Healthy Business

While some c-store operators are gingerly testing the waters of healthy lunch and dinner solutions, others have plunged right in as the tide of consumer demand moves steadily toward fresher fare. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. With the opening of its latest store in Marshfield, Mass., Tedeschi Food Shops launched a new initiative that puts

Emphasizing a Strong Breakfast Business

Given that the morning daypart is such a high-growth segment, it should be no surprise that the industry’s leading retailers are focusing a lot of effort on solidifying their offerings. By John Lofstock, Editor. Americans are more amenable to buying meals at convenience stores, but won’t budge when it comes to quality, price or convenience

Retailers Urged to Lighten Up

While LED lighting has helped many businesses reduce their carbon footprint, each retailer must decide if the endeavor is a worthy long-term investment. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. During holiday season 2011, the 74-foot Norway spruce in New York City’s Rockefeller Center was covered in 30,000 multicolored light-emitting diodes (LED). Those glowing decorations were an

Capturing Hispanic Customers

Offering quality customer service with bilingual employees and traditional foods can drive retail loyalty among the growing Hispanic population. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Today, Hispanic food is mainstream and attractive to a wide array of demographics seeking spicier flavors, but the secret to keeping your Hispanic customers’ repeat business lies in more than just

The Evolution of Cash Management

Smart safes are getting smarter and so are the convenience store operators who use them. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor It’s all about the money, so handle it intelligently. Having a smart safe—and training employees to use it effectively—relieves a lot of the traditional headaches associated with handling cash, according to Los Angeles-based retail security

Big Apple Plants the Seeds for New Growth

After rebranding a number of its locations under the CITGO brand, Big Apple Food Stores looks to expand its retail portfolio in 2012. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor C.N. Brown’s Big Apple Food Stores has had a busy 12 months. The 82-store chain with locations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, completed an aggressive push

NACS CAFÉ Helps Identify Foodservice Solutions

Certified foodservice managers have shown that they are competent and disciplined, and they tend to display outstanding human resources management skills. By Dr. Nancy Caldarola, Education Director, NACS CAFÉ Foodservice has taken a prominent place in convenience stores. This segment has grown from a humble cup of coffee to a wide array of fresh sandwiches,

The 2012 Convenience Retail Outlook

Economic uncertainty is causing retailers to be cautious as they plan for the upcoming year, but investments in technology, social media and foodservice appear to be expanding. By David Bishop, Contributing Editor.  The outlook for 2012 depends largely on the focus of the question. What is clear based on the CSD/Balvor 2012 Convenience Retail Outlook

Will EMV be DOA?

Visa is encouraging retailers to move toward the EMV technology seen in Europe, but some argue by the time it’s implemented in the U.S., the technology will be outdated. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Visa this fall announced plans to speed up the migration to contact chip and contactless EMV chip credit card technology in

Robinson Takes the Helm at NACS

Incoming chairman promotes advocacy as he prepares to battle swipe fees, fuel standards and tobacco regulations in the year ahead. By John Lofstock, Editor. Renowned author and business strategist Tom Peter once said, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” When it comes to the challenges facing the convenience store and petroleum industry over

The Impact of Alternative Fuels

The political momentum to bring renewable energy products to the pumps is strong and growing. But with all the added costs to rebuild the nation’s petroleum infrastructure, is it worth it? By John Lofstock, Editor. Preparing for the future is a complex issue retailers should always be pondering. But in the fuel business this question

Maintaining Compliance with Fuel Tank Standards

Out of sight, out of mind could land convenience store and gas station owners in serious trouble if they neglect their underground storage tanks (USTs) any longer. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. With fines for leaks on the rise, regulations for tank compliance data retention getting longer and reporting frequencies increasing, the time has come

Building New Tobacco Sales

Retailers and government officials butt heads over handmade cigarettes. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor Celeste Lucas likes to smoke, but she doesn’t like paying $5 a pack for cigarettes, so she took matters into her own hands and purchased a roll-your-own cigarette machine. Using loose tobacco and paper tubes, she can now create an entire

Driving Foodservice Profitability

Taking steps to promote innovative products and value pricing can elevate the whole roller grill experience. By Heather Henstock, Contributing Editor. When consumers think of convenience store food, roller grill hot dogs are top of mind. Roller grills have developed a mixed reputation over the years, but they remain a staple of c-store foodservice programs

Boosting Energy Sales

Although some c-store operators admit to being worried about regulators turning their focus toward energy products, many believe the category has at least another year of strong growth ahead. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Sales of energy shots are soaring despite the lingering recession. New products, flavors and marketing messages are making it one of

Delivering a Winning Pizza Program

In an effort to grow its foodservice business, Casey’s is expanding its menu to include pizza delivery. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Casey’s General Stores has sold pizza for more than a quarter century making it one of the earliest convenience store chains to do so. Now, in an effort to expand its customer base,

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