Implementing Ricker’s Employee-Centric Philosophy

With more than 18 years as Ricker’s director of human resources, Karen Mitchener spearheads training, employee recognition and retention. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor Ricker’s philosophy is if it takes care of its employees, they will take care of its customers. Karen Mitchener, director of human resources for Anderson, Ind.-based Ricker’s, has played a central

Sales of Accessories Add Up

For years, tobacco accessories—a category that covers a litany of products, from lighters to roll-your-own papers to hookahs—catered to traditional tobacco users. Smokers reflexively reach for lighters or matches as they pay for cigarettes or cigars at convenience store counters. In fact, this relationship has prompted sports teams, music groups, and television shows to expand

How to Satisfy Customer Cravings with Dairy

Ice cream and dairy products, especially milk, are convenience store staples, of which U.S. consumers can’t seem to get enough. “Essentially, the category of milk is exploding in retail health stores and with alternative milks, yet conventional grocery and c-stores are behind trend on offerings,” said Deborah Holand, a consulting partner with b2b Solutions in

Health and Beauty: More Than Before

Health and beauty aids (HBA) aren’t usually products that many c-stores take the time and trouble, or go to the expense to actively market. But they should. The U.S. beauty industry reached $16 billion in 2015, a 7% increase over 2014 sales, according to the NPD Group. Makeup experienced the healthiest sales growth—13% during that

Loyalty Evolves With the Times

2016 is expected to bring more integration of loyalty programs in mobile payments and increased development of program apps. Retailers are also moving toward encouraging 100% redemption of loyalty points. For customers, the benefits of being a loyalty program member become the most salient when the customer redeems a reward (e.g. gets discount, product or

Why Were Gum & Mint Sales Fresher in 2015?

Taste, size and portability continue to drive growth in non-chocolate candy, especially gum and mints. And while U.S. consumer trends have moved toward the growing popularity of breath-fresheners and away from gum, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), candy and gum sales in convenience stores rose a significant 5.6% over the 52 weeks ending

Moving Forward with POS Tools

It might be surprising to learn that a great number of smaller convenience store retailers in the U.S. don’t have a point-of-sale (POS) system at all, according to Software Advice, an information resource firm that counsels software buyers. “It doesn’t make sense when you consider the affordability and the benefits of all the POS systems

Chocolate’s Sweet Spot Expands

Chocolate candy continues to maintain its status as an “accessible luxury,” as the overall market grew to approximately $22 billion in 2015—a 2.7% increase over 2014—according to George Puro, president of Puro Research Group, and author of the Packaged Facts report “Chocolate Candy in the U.S.” In convenience stores in particular, the growth of chocolate

Manager Profiling Made Easy

It takes experience to identify certain managerial styles, and a strong will to overcome them. By Fran Duskiewicz One mistake newly promoted supervisors often make is believing that they can change managers who might have some issues in management style. Sometimes, with added responsibility and power, they approach dealing with these issues in a rather

Prepaid Shifts Toward Digital

The prepaid category is expected to continue to grow in 2016, but the rise of digital gift cards could impact convenience store sales of physical gift cards. Mercator Advisory Group projected that the total open-loop prepaid card market will have a compound annual growth rate of 7% through 2018. Closed-loop overall will have a compound

Keying on Electronic Payment Issues

According to a Pew Research Study conducted in December 2014, some 64% of adults own a smartphone, including 85% of those ages 18-29 and 79% of those 30-49. In 2014, consumers used those phones to spend an estimated $4 billion at the point of sale (POS). Known as “mobile proximity payments,” purchases using a phone

Retailers Fight Theft at Every Turn

As workplace theft remains a constant issue for retail operations, c-stores continue to look for new means to complement tried-and-true theft prevention strategies, as 2016 progresses. Theft by employees, of both stock and cash, is now among retailers’ top three areas of concern, according to the “US Retail Fraud Survey 2015” conducted by Retail Knowledge,

Energy Shots are Targeting a Wider Demand

The popularity of energy shots is in a precarious position. For consumers who wanted an energy boost without having to down a lot of liquid, energy shots proved an enormously popular alternative for a few years. For some retailers, the category still is popular. “In 2015, it was a good category,” said Gary Tabor, marketing

RYO Endures Market Pressure

The fortunes of roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco will likely continue to wax and wane in 2016. Last year was more wane, due mainly to a resurgence in combustible cigarette sales. Vivien Azer, managing director with the Cowen Group, a diversified financial services firm, explained why RYO’s share dipped in the tobacco category. “Cigarette industry trends were

How to Optimize Hispanic Foodservice Sales

Hispanic foods have become a menu item of choice in more convenience stores, appealing to the tastes of Hispanic shoppers and other patrons wanting to try new items. Using freshly-prepared foods to attract Hispanic shoppers to c-stores has become a proposition with value. “All our Orlando stores have fried empanadas,” said Alex Davidovich, executive vice

Smokeless Tobacco Stays Steady

With a void left by smokers who are foregoing cigarettes and e-cigarette users who aren’t convinced of their long-term stability, more U.S. tobacco consumers are embracing other tobacco products (OTP). As it has for the last few years, smokeless tobacco is driving sales in the OTP category as tobacco manufacturers find new ways to keep

Popular Proteins Define Snacks

Dried meat products have been around for hundreds of years, but arguably this snack offering has never been more popular, especially in the convenience store channel. C-stores account for nearly 60% of the $2.8 billion in meat snack sales across all multi-outlet venues in 2015, according to IRI. C-store meat snack sales outpaced the industry

Cigar Growth Threatened by Regulations

As part of the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, a new program called Preschool for All has been proposed with funding coming from an increase in both the federal tax on cigarettes and a tax increase on other tobacco products (OTP), including cigars. Currently the federal tax on cigarettes is $1.01 per pack, the

Vape Products Holding Their Own

The biggest story for the vaping industry in 2015 was no news: whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would deem vaporizers and associated products such as flavored e-juices the same as tobacco products. Of course such a determination would make vape products susceptible to some federal regulations—not to mention state laws and taxes—that

E-Cigarettes Strive in 2015

Though there were positive developments in the e-cigarette segment, the biggest development in 2015 was the further strengthening of Vuse by R.J. Reynolds Vapor, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reynolds American. Data compiled by Wells Fargo Securities LLC indicated the Vuse brand firmly holds onto the No. 1 spot with 38.5% of the dollar shares as

Flavors, Textures and Cheese Lead Snack Trends in 2016

Snacking remains a popular and growing pastime with Americans—about 80% admit to enjoying at least one a day, 29% snack twice a day and 22% grab something to curb their appetites three or more times a day, according to research by CivicScience. According to industry data, multi-snackers, who snack two or more times per day,

Healthy Snacking Spans Three Dayparts

More and more Americans are eating smaller portions of food more frequently throughout the day, and there is universal agreement in the food industry that this mega-trend is here to stay. This tendency is especially evident during the morning daypart, where on-the-go meal sales are surging. What’s also increasing is sales of breakfast and snack

ATMs Meet Industry Cash Needs

Visitors to the NAC2016 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., hosted by the National ATM Council Inc. in October, will learn the latest advances in the ATM industry, from machines that work with mobile devices, to those which enable customers to make cardless cash withdrawals, purchase lotto tickets, exchange foreign currency and participate in coupon

How To Succeed With Bakery At C-Stores

Led by Millennials, time-pressed consumers continue to turn away from sit-down breakfast options in favor of more portable snacks they can eat while on the go. Instead of grocers and baked good shops, customers more and more are drawn to convenience stores that boast diverse bakery offerings, including single-serve and snacking options. Whether it’s premium

Snacking Trends Boost Roller Grill

Hot dog and sausage sales in the U.S. are expected to grow an annualized 1.9% to $18.1 billion by 2019, according to a report by IBISWorld, a market research company. While the traditional varieties will continue to be favorites, the researchers projected that manufacturers will create items made with leaner poultry meat, organic meat, and