What’s Ahead For Cigarette Sales?

If increased cigarette shipments are any indication, category sales could be robust in 2016. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor This past October, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reported that cigarette shipments for the first half of 2015 had increased from the same period the previous year—the first year-over-year increase in cigarette shipments

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Energy Drinks Moving Forward

Energy drinks continue to show vigor as the segment fills the gap created by fizzling carbonated soft drink sales. The question is: can energy sales continue to climb? By D. Gail Fleenor, Contributing Editor Energy drinks continue to grab more space in convenience store coolers. According to c-store data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research

Data: On the Level

When it comes to effectively tracking sales data and inventory, technology is changing at breakneck speed. If your company isn’t keeping up, then it’s probably behind the competition. By Traci Dawn Carneal, Contributing Editor In the fast-paced world of data collection and analysis, experts seem to agree on at least one thing—tracking sales by item,

FriendShip Enjoys Smooth Sailing

With its expanded Anchor Café foodservice program, new store locations and stronger customer engagement, Ohio-based FriendShip Food Stores is charting its course for the future. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Situated between Toledo and Cleveland, the Ohio city of Port Clinton means walleye fishing, the dizzying roller coasters of Cedar Point and the eminence of Lake

Alternative Fuels Gain Traction

Retailers such as OnCue Express and Kum & Go are cultivating business opportunities by offering consumers more options at the pump. By David Bennett, Senior Editor After much hand wringing on various fronts, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued its final rule, establishing renewable volume obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The EPA did

Baby Boomers Not the Lost Generation Yet

Though more c-stores strive to attract a younger customer base, older patrons are just as valuable. By Fran Duskiewicz Often we read in the trade journals about what the convenience industry should do to attract and keep the latest generation of customers. I’ve been around long enough to remember seminars about Gen X, Gen Y, Echoes,

Gassing Up on Earlier Lessons

The convenience store industry should take a chapter from the big automakers’ book and adopt the stellar performance of our industry’s current “Big Seven” c-store operators. By Jim Callahan The fuel shortage that occurred in the 1970s changed the perception of foreign compacts and their superior fuel mileage. America’s gas guzzlers quickly lost favor as

Art and Crafts

Craft beers continue to entice convenience customers with homestyle brands and broader selections. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Craft beer has been a surprising boon to the convenience store channel for the last couple of years. As more specialty beer options have flowed, consumers have spent more and retailers have responded in kind with a

How To Promote Roller Grill & Pizza

Buoyed by a constant stream of new products and equipment upgrades as well as focus on time-tested procedures, roller grill and pizza continue to appeal to convenience store customers. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Made-to-order foods may get most of the buzz, but there’s a good reason why so many convenience stores still offer roller

How To Master Forecourt Appeal

From touchscreens and videos to beacons, a combination of technologies can help entice your customers from the pump into the store. By Brad Perkins, Contributing Editor Seemingly every week, a company or vendor introduces a new technology to help people get things done faster, more efficiently and with less energy. Yet with the overabundance of

2016 Social Media Awards

CSD’s fourth annual review of the social media strategies used by convenience store chains across the industry and how retailers can capitalize on best practices in 2016. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor For the fourth year running, Convenience Store Decisions examined the Facebook (FB) and Twitter pages of more than 60 convenience store chains, recognizing

War of the Wages

Demand for a higher minimum wage has sparked controversy and generated questions among U.S businesses. Wages will continue to be a point of interest for the c-store industry in 2016. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor In November 2015, fast food workers demonstrated in more than 270 U.S. cities, demanding a national minimum wage hike to

How To Succeed With Smokeless

Because of consumer loyalty, smokeless tobacco is holding its own in terms of category sales. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor Sales of smokeless tobacco products remain steady at convenience stores, as many smokers seek alternative tobacco products for areas where cigarettes are not allowed. But the category continues to face hurdles when it comes to

How To Design for Efficiency

From aesthetics to flow, store design can make or break your customers’ shopping experience. By Brad Perkins, Contributing Editor Aesthetics. Interior design. Customer flow. Those terms aren’t necessarily the first thoughts that come to mind when discussing convenience stores. But, increasingly, these are items that c-stores are considering when designing new stores. Whether it’s helping

A Vision for the Future

This retailer’s natural growth progression and organic ingenuity has it well suited to compete in the New York state marketplace. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Not every convenience store operates with a full vision for the future. Some in the industry seem to function in the dark for the most part, blindly trying new innovations

How To Wake Up Breakfast Sales

With America constantly on the go, it’s no surprise that grab-and-go breakfast sandwich sales are growing in the convenience channel. However, sales of not-so-portable foods are also on the rise. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Breakfast is the only restaurant daypart with sustained visit growth over the last several years, said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry

How To Heat Up Sales With Hot Dogs

With the emphasis on fresh, “better-for-you” and made to order, the roller grill is vying to compete for prime counter space at c-stores. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor The hot dog isn’t quite as humble as it used to be. Sonic Drive-in, for example, features six different dogs nationally (and two more regionally) on its

How To Bring Fuel Customers Inside Your Store

Between technical advances and effective forecourt strategies, retailers are able to prompt patrons from the pump to points inside their stores. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor Thanks to pay-at-the-pump technology, the average convenience store fuel customer spends five minutes or less filling up a gas tank. Some of them will come into the store and

How To Profit With Pizza

Few foods are as veto-proof as pizza. Because of the promise of profits, convenience stores are getting an increasingly larger piece of the $40 billion U.S. pizza market. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Americans are passionate about pizza. They crave it morning, noon and night, as convenience store operators have discovered. And stores don’t have

How To Win With Coffee

The best means for c-stores to edge out the competition lies in promoting quality and providing better value.  By Howard Riell, Associated Editor When considering a quality coffee product, differentiating the offer from those of competing convenience stores and quick-service restaurants (QSR) is vastly important, experts say. However, too much thinking and tinkering can result

How To Weather the Storm

From crafting a plan to installing automatic generators, stakeholders in areas that experience hurricanes share best practices for emergency preparedness. By Brad Perkins, Contributing Editor With the damage from Super Storm Sandy fresh in their minds, convenience store owners would have been right to be concerned when Hurricane Joaquin barreled toward the Atlantic Coast in

How To Prepare For A Breach

Convenience stores should incorporate data violations into their operational crisis response plans. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor Crises in business are common. They range from public management blunders and workplace crime to employee dissent and data breaches. One of the best things a retail management team can do to handle these problems is to prepare

How To Heighten The Customer Experience

More c-stores are coming up with innovative concepts to heighten the customer experience, resulting in increased sales. By David Bennett, Senior Editor In the competitive climate, in which convenience stores operate, one of the biggest advantages that the channel holds over other retail segments is obviously convenience. It’s the one business aspect that other channels

How to Make Room For Beverages

With CSDs seeking to reclaim ground in the packaged beverage category, teas, energy and craft products are eying new opportunity in the convenience channel. By D. Gail Fleenor, Contributing Editor Current lower pump prices are bringing more shoppers inside the store and the pack- aged beverage category is benefiting. However, that ice-cold beverage may be

How To Excel in the Vapor Market

From corporate acquisitions and collaborations to local and state regulatory enforcement, it’s been an eventful year for e-tobacco products. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Nearing the end of 2013, sales of e-cigarettes and vapors/tanks/mods (VTMs) were riding high for convenience stores and other tobacco retailers. As reported by Wells Fargo, unit growth of e-cigarettes for

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