Embracing Automated Cash Control

More convenience store operators are phasing out their drop safes and replacing them with sophisticated cash management systems that perform a variety of functions more easily and quickly than ever before. One of those is the linking of computer networks for easier access to information throughout the organization. In doing so, cash shrinkage due to

An Appetizing Offering

Keeping the Customers Satisfied John Foley, an independent culinary consultant, said c-stores are a perfect fit for appetizers because of their portability and lower cost. He offered retailers five tips for increasing appetizer, soup and salad sales. 1) Develop a series of appetizers that are not on your regular menu and rotate them as specials

Tools of the Trade

Busy consumers continue watching their wallets, but one thing hasn’t changed. They want great tasting meals and snacks—and they want them fast. In spite of today’s economic angst, opportunities abound for providing time-crunched consumers with foods on the run. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 69% of adults surveyed said purchasing

Marketing the Beverage Bar

While frozen dispensed beverages are not a huge portion of the typical store’s overall sales, the product is proving to be quite profitable, thanks to a gross margin north of 50%. Although the slush-style drink was a c-store original, other retailers recognized its potential, and today, frozen beverages with a variety of names and logos

A Taxing Time for Tobacco

Last year was truly a difficult time for tobacco. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) increased tobacco taxes from a “modest” 158% increase on cigarettes up to a hideous 2,000 plus percentage increase on roll your own tobacco and small cigars. (RYO went from $1.10 per pound to $24.68 and small cigars went from

Sweetening Candy Sales

 Americans’ love affair with chocolate will never end. That said, sales of non-chocolate candy and gum are rising steadily, fueled by the economy and the search for innovative, flavorful new products. “Yes, people are right in calling this a strong category,” said Bill Singer, a principal in Singer’s Chevron Inc. in Walla Walla, Wash. “When

Boosting Bakery Sales

With sales of packaged bakery snacks down, the allure of fresh- or par-baked items can generate revenue in the coming year if c-store operators handle things correctly. Jim Schutz, vice president of people assets for Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin, said his chain has two different bakery offerings, muffins and doughnuts, which are supplied

Using ATMs to Drive Profits

For many years ATMs were nothing more than large boxes hiding in the corner of convenience stores across the country. Over the years, though, that strategy has evolved as in-store real estate became more valuable and marketers looked for every edge to attract new customers. As such, retailers these days are faced with three distinct

The Sky’s the Limit

Making your mark in the convenience store industry requires hard work, dedication, great people and outstanding service. Throw in three generations of family-owned leadership and a firm commitment to quality and value, and you’ll understand why High’s of Baltimore Inc. is among one of the most revered operators in its markets. “Our brand has been

The Shack Pushes the Bounds of Convenience

As all convenience store chains look for innovative ways to drive sales as tobacco and gas margins decline, they might take note from an unlikely teacher—a small town store in Grandy, Minn., whose unique offerings are going to new lengths to meet consumer demands. Though only 1,100 square feet, “The Shack on 65” packs the

Efficient Exit Strategies Sweeten Candy Profits

Developing an effective exit strategy for candy and reviewing product performance regularly can boost profits in the candy segment. “On a basic level you want to discontinue the slow moving items that rank in the bottom of the category to bring in something new that is going to contribute sales and margins to the category,”

Flexibility Fuels Chicken

TOP FIVE U.S. Chicken producers Average Weekly Production (in million pounds)    Market    Share %     Pilgrim’s Pride 146 20.30% Tyson Foods 144 20.00% Perdue Farms 55 7.60% Sanderson Farms 42 5.80% Wayne Farms 34 4.70%   Investing in foodservice is a big step for any c-store chain, but if it’s done right, the

Thinking Outside the Box

In 2010, retailers are getting creative to reach customers with the general merchandise category. As with other categories, expect customers to be focused on finding more value for their dollar. 7-Eleven Inc. sees quirky, fun products attracting customer attention at its chain in 2010. The Dallas-based chain ended the fourth quarter of 2009 with an

Driving Prepared Food Sales

Inside the Numbers: Rutter’s FARM Stores 200+ Number of prepared food combinations available at any given time. 6 New prepared food items added to Rutter’s menu in February 2010. 5 Prepared food items dropped from Rutter’s menu in February 2010. 20% Store sales from prepared foods in the 37 Rutter’s locations equipped with order kiosks.

Leveraging Loyalty

Reaping Rewards Loyalty marketing programs recognize and reward the best customers of a business. Nearly one-third of U.S. consumers (32.3%) consider their participation in retail rewards programs to be “more important” as they seek to stretch their household budgets in the recessionary economy, according to survey research from Colloquy. In another significant result from its

Capitalizing on Coffee

Opportunity for Growth 54% of the overall adult population drank coffee beverages daily in 2009. Coffee preparation at home is up five percentage points, with 83% of past-day coffee drinkers reporting that they made coffee at home the day before. 80% of coffee drinkers are doing nothing different despite the economic downturn. 17% are visiting

Cigarettes Still King

State Tax Grab During 2009, cigarette tax increases were defeated in 19 states and passed into law in 12 states. States where cigarette tax increases were not enacted include: STATE Failed TAX Increase in 2009 Alabama 32.5 cents per pack Connecticut 50 cents per pack Georgia $1 per pack Kansas 95 cents per pack over

Competitive Pricing Key to Water Sales

Operators hoping to do well with bottled and flavored waters in 2010 need to understand what both water and bottles mean to today’s consumers. Following a decade of steady growth, bottled water sales in c-stores declined last year as consumer spending lagged due to higher fuel prices and the economic recession. But many retailers and

Lighting the Way

Making money in tobacco accessories—lighters, cigar cutters, humidors, pipes, rolling machines, rolling papers and even hookahs—during the months ahead may not be easy, but it can be done. Three ways to do it: offer novel items, stay on the cutting edge of trends and let customers roll their own. The payoff in 2010 could be

What Do Your Restrooms Say About You?

When it comes to sanitation and store cleanliness, looks speak for themselves. Whether it’s the front counter, the forecourt or the restrooms, convenience store operators must monitor the message they are sending to customers. “If you’re in this business and want to stay in this business your customer is going to tell you what their

Smokeless Stays Strong

With many states passing smoking bans, more customers are turning to smokeless tobacco, and the sales figures from 2009 bear that out. According to Information Resources Inc., for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009 total dollar sales for other tobacco products was $6.07 billion, up 14.6% from last year. Unit sales totaled 2.40 billion,

A Shot of Energy

The “tip of the YEAR” when it comes to selling two-ounce energy shots, said Terry Messmer, merchandise manager for NOCO Express Stores in Tanawanda, N.Y., is to protect margins. “What is happening is that beverage suppliers are very quick to lower the price of the product to get more sales, but we have to still

Protecting Against Theft

RETAIL THEFT 2009 Employee theft accounted for 35.2% of shrink dollars. 41.2% of retailers worldwide experienced a significant increase in shoplifting in 2009, attributable to the economic downturn. Shoplifting and employee theft in the U.S. cost retailers $42.2 billion from June 2008 to June 2009. Every American family was forced to pay an additional $435

RYO Rolls Into 2010

RYO Pounds Sold Per Year Roll your own (RYO) cigarettes is a growing trend. Sales have climbed during the past five years, yet took a dive in 2009 as customers started using pipe tobacco to roll cigarettes as a result of increased taxes. On the other hand, customers used 10.6 million pounds of pipe tobacco

Cold and Frozen Beverages Offer Promise

Inside the Numbers: J&H Family Express Stores 60+% Profit margin on fountain drinks. $5,000 Amount spent on cold and frozen dispensing equipment per store. 10 Stores Scheduled to have cold/frozen equipment upgraded in 2010. 2 Years Anticipated ROI for the beverage units. 10% Projected percentage of store sales from cold and frozen dispensed beverages with

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