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

New Flavors, Demand Drives OTP

Despite the SCHIP bill and mounting state taxes, smokeless tobacco products have experienced a strong year packed with innovation, new flavors and increased consumer demand. According to the NACS 2009 State of the Industry report, smokeless tobacco sales surged 6.1% to $2.96 billion last year. The average c-store totaled $1,703 per month in smokeless sales

Prepaid Sales Surging

Whether it’s phone cards, credit cards or prepaid gaming cards being promoted by 7-Eleven, prepaid sales are hot, and retailers would be wise to get in on the action. For example, c-store operators with a high number of ethnic customers could capitalize on the growing reloadable cell phone card market. The top destinations for overseas

New Products, Fuel Dispensed Beverages

The cold frozen dispensed category is undergoing some major changes these days, with many c-stores adding milkshakes and even energy slushees to their offerings. The additions continue to make the cold and frozen dispensed category one of the hottest in the convenience store industry. “We’ve had great success with using energy drinks like Monster, Rock

Role of Technology Expanding

Whether it’s PCI compliance, overcoming high credit card fees or getting more out of a current point-of-sale (POS) system, investing in technology has never been more important for c-stores. With PCI compliance deadlines looming, many operators are still not up to speed on what they need to do, or how to do it. The Payment

Competition Heats Up for Coffee

Did You Know? Data released by the National Coffee Association shows the market penetration for coffee has surpassed that of soft drinks, reversing a 20-year pattern. Fifty-seven percent of American adults drink coffee daily versus 51% for soft drinks. Coffee drinking among 18-24 year-olds also jumped 6%, the fourth year in a row for such

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

Handee Marts Garners Ethics Award

Don’t think customer service makes a difference? Handee Marts’ President and CEO Mike Triantafellou would disagree. Handee Marts, which operates 67 7-Eleven convenience stores in Pittsburgh, was honored recently with the Pittsburgh Business Ethics Award (PBEA), presented by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, in conjunction with the David Berg Center

Building a Beer Strategy

Beer sales have held relatively steady despite the economic maelstrom of the past several months, and one reason is that c-stores are asking for help. Operators are seeking and getting assistance of various sorts from their suppliers in an effort to make up for lost dollars. Help is coming in the form of promotional programs

Growing Snack Sales

Sunflower seeds, which have quietly built a loyal following both as planned and impulse purchases, are garnering more shelf space these days as c-store retailers expand this category. Randy Adams, buyer for Huck’s Food and Fuel in Carmi, Ill., found that sunflower seeds have proven so popular that when he recently completed a nuts and

Concerns Abound for Cigars

The war over tobacco taxes to pay for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) ended on February 4 when Congress passed the Senate’s version of the bill and new President Barack Obama signed it into law. What that means for c-store operators who sell cigars in an era of a rough

Foodservice Boosts Retail Growth

Not doing foodservice? Then you better start thinking about it. That was the key message from a host of retailers, consultants and foodservice experts as CSD presented its 2009 Foodservice Webcast Series. In fact, just having food items is hardly enough. Chains need to invest in specialty fare and ethnic cuisines in order to differentiate

Driving Car Wash Sales

Doggy Drive Throughs One of the faster growing car wash trends is the do-it-yourself dog wash, which appears largely driven by financial considerations on the part of dog owners. No wonder: With dog grooming salons charging anywhere from $25 to $100 to bathe Fido these days, a $5 or even $10 self-serve alternative is a

Prepaid Cards: The Sky’s the Limit

Prepaid cards have been used in the U.S. for about 20 years, and forward-thinking marketers continue finding new ways to use and promote them. This is a boon for convenience retailers, many of whom have been instrumental in growing the category. Prepaid cards were invented in Europe in the mid-70s when Italians found themselves short

Understanding the Hispanic Market

Describe your perfect customer.  No doubt it would be someone who shops at convenience stores more often, spends more money during each trip and buys across more categories. According to the Greenfield Online/Mintel Hispanic Consumer report, you have just described the Hispanic consumer market. As the current recession continues to put a strain on retailers,

The Singers Strike Gold

The third time is indeed the charm for Bill and Loretta Singer, who own and operate Singer’s Chevron just outside the Oregon border in Walla, Walla, Wash. In 2006, the Singers were presented with Chevron’s “Customer First” bronze award. In 2007, they took home the silver. And, for 2008, they finally laid claim to the

Sweet Opportunity

By Bob Gatty, Contributing Editor If manufacturers, distributors and convenience store retailers would embrace some basic changes and work more closely together, they could realize a potential bonanza of hundreds of millions of dollars in new profit, according to a new joint industry study. That is the message of the soon-to-be released “Convenience, Candy &

Healthy Trends in Kids’ Candy

They came, they saw, they tasted. Dozens of children, ages 8-13, were invited to become junior candy buyers by sampling various candies at ECRM’s Confectionary Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS) in Dallas. The junior candy buyers were given an inside look at the confection industry from retail buyer attendees that included convenience stores and cross-channel

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