Developing a Late Night Menu

C-store operators burning the midnight oil thinking of ways to increase their business may have inadvertently stumbled upon their answer. While late night has grown into an identifiable daypart on its own, too many retailers either haven’t yet recognized it as such or simply don’t have the traffic to warrant promoting it. But for those

Cultivating Loyal Customers

Savvy c-store operators are using customer loyalty/scan-data-analysis programs to improve merchandise planning, forecasting and point-of-sale (POS) data management, and to provide a technology platform for long-term growth. When done well, the inevitable result is to empower store personnel to react quickly, make more informed decisions and improve cost effectiveness, so they can simplify customers’ lives.

Data Security Standards: Are You Prepared?

PCI compliance deadlines continue to barrel toward the convenience store industry, yet many operators are still not up to speed on precisely what they need to do, or how to do it. The Payment Card Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), developed by the PCI Security Standards Council and endorsed by American Express, Discover Financial Services,

Safe at the Store

The times necessitate that store systems do more–and few store systems are more crucial to a retailer’s success than cash handling and security. While retail technology has focused on point-of-sale (POS) systems that integrate everything from transaction accounting to inventory management, one of the most recent areas of opportunity involves the integration of cash handling

Enhancing Store Security

Construction Investments Slowing

It’s costing more than ever to build new convenience stores, according to the NACS’ 2009 State of the Industry report. This news comes at a time when the economy is dragging down sales and profits. As a result, operators face a crucial challenge as they try to grow business organically: build or renovate? The answer

Tracking the Trends

An otherwise tough year for convenience stores was balanced out by strong retail fuel margins from the unprecedented drop in wholesale fuels prices during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) 2009 State of the Industry report. However, credit card fees continue to take a toll on industry profitability.

Dipping Into New Profits

In a market plagued by high taxes, declining gross margin profits on cigarettes and the likely possibility of FDA restrictions on tobacco, retailers more than ever need to manage the tobacco category more closely. It’s no secret that the smokeless category has been growing, with big year-on-year gains in new product sales, flavors and line

New Products Power the Roller Grill

Tough times call for creative measures. The stagnant economy and hefty cigarette taxes have more c-store chains expanding their foodservice segments and adding more roller grill items to provide a greater array of hot food options at a value price to sustain loyal customers. “Customers automatically associate c-stores and roller grills. It’s been a source

The Coffee Battle Brews

Convenience store operators need to focus on meeting consumer demand for a quality cup of coffee as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Caribou all announced plans to step up their brew programs to reel in consumers during a tough economy. About 54% of the adult population in the U.S. classify themselves as coffee consumers, according

Taking Convenience to a New Level

The milkman is making his rounds in Mountain Top, Penn. Good2Go is enhancing its convenience offering by providing residents the option of having fresh, all-natural and organic products delivered directly to their front doors. When partners Awais Ahmad, V.J. George and Thomas Job opened the store in September 2008, they had no idea how popular

Pizza Palates Changing

Fast Facts About Pizza • Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or about 350 slices per second. • Pizza is a $30 billion per year industry. There are approximately 69,000 pizzerias in the U.S. Approximately three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year. (Source: Blumenfeld and Associates) • Pizzerias represent

Bottled Water Holds Strong

Proprietary Brands Prosper With consumers seeking less expensive options, private label sales are increasing across all channels, but struggling in c-stores, where they brought in $3 billion in sales, but were down 3.3% compared to last year, for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 21, 2009. In contrast, Wal-Mart’s private label sales were up by 10.8%,

Flexibility Boosts Chicken Sales

Did You Know? Results from the 2008 Consumer Market for Chicken 1,000 Household Survey found that 23% of respondents had purchased rotisserie chicken in four weeks prior to the survey. Consumers with an income of $75,000 or more are the most likely purchasers of rotisserie chicken (31%). Those with an income of $30,000 to $39,999

Burst of Energy

Did You Know? By the year 2001, the U.S. energy drink market had grown to nearly $8 million per year in retail sales. Over the next 5 years, it grew an average of more than 50% per year, totaling over $3 billion in 2005. Diet energy drinks are growing at nearly twice that rate within

Demand Grows for Packaged Sales

Given current level of public concern over health issues, it’s hardly surprising more c-stores are increasing offerings of prepackaged goods, including sandwiches and baked products. Even with prepackaged sandwiches, “stores need to be vigilant against contamination of any kind,” said environmental specialist and HACCP-Plus President Marsha Robbins, who added store employees must also be attentive

A Shot of Energy

Did You Know? Energy shot sales have doubled to $423 million, according to a report released last month by Zenith International. Other key findings from the “2009 Zenith Energy Shot Drinks” report include: • Energy shot drinks present traditional energy drinks with new distribution channel opportunities, such as the health and nutrition sector. • Living

Strong Outlook for Confections

Candy Shopper Insights Repositioning candy to the highest traffic aisle in the store could significantly boost sales, according to the “Convenience, Candy & Profit” study conducted by Kit Dietz, of Dietz Consulting. Other key findings include: • Keeping core brands in stock at all times. • Improving in-store product placement. • Understanding and responding to

Light Boost to Beer

Despite tough economic times, sales of beer and wine remain constant even though many consumers continue to “trade down the box,” according to Dan Roane, category manager of alcoholic beverages for Circle K’s Southeastern stores. “The below premium beer segment is doing much better than it has in years,” Roane said. “We actually are seeing

Variety Spicing Up Salty Snacks

Salty Statistics According to a study by The Nielsen Co. that outlined c-store trends, pretzels and popcorn sales saw strong growth during the 52 weeks ended March 21, 2009, with sales for pretzels up $164 million, a 10.1% increase. Popcorn sales totaled $119 million, a 14.3% increase from the previous year. Potato chips lead the

Equipment Key to Driving Food Sales

Convenience store operators in search of faster cooking times and longer holding times are finding foodservice equipment that can help. But which pieces, at what price points, with what sort of ROIs and in what sort of configuration remain questions that must be weighed and answered. For an industry whose core competency isn’t food, and

Mixed Results for Carbonated

The U.S. refreshment beverage market contracted by 2% in 2008, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., making last year the first volume downturn on record. Nonetheless, beverages still performed better than many other industries, such as automobiles and the financial sector. Several beverage types continued to shine, including carbonated soft drinks in many parts of the

Products, Packaging Key to HBC

Private Label Predicament Private label categories are increasing across all product categories, including HBC. While consumers still want the brands they know and trust, in today’s economy many are looking for a more optimally priced equivalent. In the first aid category, private label sales are up 10% compared to last year, according to Nielsen for

Wild Ride Continues for Cigarettes

Once again, cigarettes dominated in-store sales, accounting for nearly one in every three dollars spent in stores, but cigarette gross margins continued to plummet, falling to 15.3%. These low cigarette margins dropped the category to third in terms of gross margin contribution (16%) behind foodservice (23.9%) and packaged beverages (16.6%) Margins promise to continue falling

High Margins Propel General Merchandise

The general merchandise/novelty category provides retailers with a unique opportunity to capture customers’ personal interests in a high-margin item. Novelty has evolved into a core category because retailers can anticipate 30-60% margins on novelty products. With such strong profit potential, chains in major markets can earn about $35,000 a year per store from the novelty

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