Energy-Efficient Tips for Controlling Costs

Choosing the right equipment  and honing maintenance procedures will help to significantly reduce energy expenses. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Convenience stores looking to save money on operating costs should start examining their cooler and lighting expenses, in addition to the lighting inside the coolers—for simple ways to save big bucks. Canastota, N.Y.-based Nice N

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Avoiding Cold Vault Cannibalization

With new healthier beverage options becoming available retailers face the task of resetting coolers to maximize sales. By: By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Who would have thought that packaged beverages could cause so many people so much angst? Heightened environmental and health concerns and the spotlight on childhood obesity have been used to cast a

Food Fight at the Breakfast Bar

While convenience stores continue to battle QSRs for coffee sales, a new clash has ensued for the morning daypart as a whole. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Despite busier lifestyles, breakfast remains the most important meal of the day to most customers. The Food Channel’s recent breakfast survey found that 95% of respondents viewed their

Industry Steps Up to Support Japan, Charitable Causes

Convenience stores continue to play an important role in raising much-needed funds in times of trouble. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. When disaster strikes, convenience stores are often at their best stepping up to support the community. But what makes the industry so special is that it often continues to give back long after the

Pump & Pantry Poised for Growth

With an innovative store design, an updated fresh food offering and a new loyalty program in the works, the Nebraska chain is set for a strong 2011. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Pump & Pantry Convenience Stores is pushing forward with an aggressive plan to redesign its chain of 43 stores. The Grand Island, Neb.

Dealing with Workers’ Compensation Costs

Insurance premiums are rising at an alarming rate, but retailers can control this growing expense by understanding all of their options. By Mark E. Battersby, Contributing Editor. Just as with death and taxes, it appears certain that workers’ compensation claims—and the costs associated with them—will inevitably rise. Workers’ compensation, a program that forces employers to

Margins Spark Tobacco Accessories

As the convenience store industry continues to weather the unceasing assault by legislators determined to make it harder to sell tobacco products, accessories are picking up speed based on what is still easy to sell. As a result, tobacco accessories is an emerging category that should continue to grow throughout 2011. According to SymphonyIRI Group,

Seeking Affordable Security Solutions

Amer Hawatmeh, president of St. Louis-based St. George Oil, believes in secure cash management, and that manufacturers of the newest systems need to work with retailers to make them more affordable. “The bottom line with cash management, my golden rule, is that once you have $100 in the drawer you need to get rid of

Product Assortment Key to General Merchandise, HBC

With the economy rebounding, 2011 is the perfect time to start driving general merchandise and health and beauty items in c-stores. “If you have cutting edge items, and word gets out, people will flock to your stores,” said Brad Lemoine, marketing director for 40 Louisiana U-PAK-It stores, a brand that unites several operators who all

Chips Entice Customers with Healthier Options, New Flavors

Salty snacks continue to drive business to convenience stores. Retailers should look to partner with suppliers to capitalize on promotional activity to boost margins and profits, as well as looking at local suppliers as consumers continue to demand products made closer to home. Steve Nalu, president of Towns Mart convenience stores in Romeo, Mich., saw

Cigars, E-Cigarettes Earning More Shelf Space

Tedeschi Food Stores of Brookline, Mass., made a decision four years ago to slash the space it gave cigarettes to increase its focus on other tobacco products (OTP). Cigarette sales continued to trend downward in the chain’s New England markets—thanks to a combination of higher taxes and aggressive marketing by Native Americans—and Tedeschi wanted to

Predicting Prepaid Growth

The prepaid card market continues to grow, and consumers are purchasing cards more often at “prepaid malls” inside convenience stores. “Rather than going to the actual store for a (Gap, for example) gift card, they go to a 7-Eleven and get the card for that store there. For c-stores that can be significant since many

Strong Forecast for Meat Snacks in 2011

Meat snacks had a robust 2010 at U.S. convenience stores, bringing in a total dollar volume of $859,071,196, according to Nielsen Co. data for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 22, 2011, up 4.8% from the previous year. The top products driving the meat snacks category for the year in dollar volume were traditional sticks at

Dairy Facing Higher Costs

Closer management of the dairy category will be crucial in 2011. According to the U.S. Dairy Association (USDA), dairy will be among the food groups with the highest price increases in 2011—4.5 to 5.5%—due to rising energy and cattle-feed costs. While the industry has evolved, many chains, such as Byrne Dairy Co. in Syracuse, N.Y.,

Getting More Out of the Back Office

Today’s fast-paced retail environment demands that convenience store owners invest in retail systems that not only speed up service, but do more to help chains reduce operating costs. Back office isn’t backstage. What happens there directly affects customers, so retailers need to get it right. Today’s systems must be able to offer useful services, such

Sandwich Sales on a Roll

There’s a reason why American Retail Services (ARS) of Oceanside, Calif.,  chose sandwiches as the centerpiece of the budding foodservice program it’s launching in its 100-store chain. Chicago-based market research firm Mintel International estimated in September 2010 that despite the challenges of the recent economy, sandwich shop sales grew 3.1% in 2010 to $24.3 billion.

Healthy Breads, Ethnic Flavor Propel Bakery

The bakery category is not as simple as heating up some dough to produce to produce bread, cookies and muffins. The complex category requires attention to detail. Does the product come frozen and ready to go right into the oven? Does it come frozen, and only needs to be thawed before serving? Is the product

Chocolate Sweetens Confectionery Sales

As the economy sputtered through 2010, confections emerged as the indulgence of choice for price-sensitive customers. The confections segment enjoyed a banner year with total chocolate sales increasing 6.89% to $2.1 billion. Units sold increased 6.3% to 1.78 billion. The average price held steady at $1.18, according to SymphonyIRI Group, for the 52 weeks ended

Dealing With Tobacco’s Cloudy Future

For all the controversy surrounding cigarettes and increased local and federal taxes, cigarette sales fared well in 2010, according to SymphonyIRI Group. For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, cigarette sales totaled more than $53.5 billion, up 5.21% from the pervious 12 months. Units sold increased 1.52% to slightly more than nine billion. The

Coffee Sales Hotter Than Ever

Hot dispensed beverages, most notably coffee, remain a lynchpin of the convenience store foodservice business and a key to its continued growth. Growing sales will be a crucial task in the months and years ahead. Chicago-based research firm Mintel International reported that c-stores and other retail coffee marketers must begin to actively recruit younger drinkers

Roller Grills Grow Up

Thanks to a surge of new products focused on ethnic diversity, the roller grill—the original anchor for most convenience store hot food programs—is hotter than ever before. And the one thing c-store operators like and appreciate most about roller grills is that you hardly notice they’re there. Grills don’t take up much room and can

Craft Sales Drive Beer

Following a solid 2009, the Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, reported strong 2010 numbers for small and independent craft brewers. Dollar sales were up 12% in the first half of 2010, compared to 9% growth during the same period in 2009. Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew

Sales Increases in Store for Juices and Teas

Watch out, soft drinks. Teas and juices are looking to capture health-conscious consumers in 2011 with flavor innovation and antioxidant power. The refrigerated juices and drinks category in the c-store sector saw total dollar sales of $423,746,400, according to SymphonyIRI data for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, up 5.73% compared to the previous

Poultry Powers Food Sales

Versatility makes chicken one of the most popular segments in foodservice. Chicago-based market research firm Mintel International reported new menu items in convenience stores and QSRs in 2010 were chicken-based as these retail segments expanded to compete with supermarkets. Mintel’s QSR report noted that 43% of respondents said they wanted healthier menu options at restaurants

Pizza Projecting Upward

QSR pizza sales have hovered at $33–$36 billion for the last few years and projections for the upcoming year are very strong, Pizza Marketplace reported. The grim economy of the past couple of years has not crushed the spirit of folks who like to eat out. Although pizza sales slowed in recent months due to

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