grabngo

Embracing a Healthier Menu

For convenience stores, healthy food offerings are creating a convergence of nutrition, foodservice solutions and profitability. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Problem: Customers want healthy,grab-and go-meal options.Solution: Add fresh cut fruits, yogurts and salads to the  menu. They’re quick, easy and appeal to a wide variety of customers. Also consider more wholesome ingredients like baked

smokelesscan

MST Offers Hope for Traditional Tobacco

MST sales remain strong, and analysts are calling for another solid year in 2014 despite regulatory efforts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor While moist smokeless tobacco (MST) sales are projected to enjoy a strong 2014, possible government legislation and public health campaigns could converge to slow its momentum. To maximize sales now, industry proponents insist

fountain

Growing the Dispensed Beverage Business

Whether it’s partnering with a buying group or negotiating a better contract on your own, fountain sales offer unprecedented profit potential. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Getting the best price possible at the soda fountain can be crucial to a convenience store operator’s profitability. That is what executives at Phillips 66 had in mind recently

kitchen

Equipped for Foodservice Success

Green, clean and seen are three of the biggest innovations when it comes to preparing fresh foods fast and merchandising them to capture shoppers’ attention wherever they are in the store. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Gas pumps Today are far from the one-dimensional fuel systems used in 1955. So why do so many convenience

fruit

C-Stores Face New SNAP Mandates

New federal rules could force some retailers to abandon the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program altogether. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor The recently enacted Federal Farm Bill is requiring new “depth of stock” mandates for convenience stores involved in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. With the Farm Bill

Jiffy

Jiffy Mini Marts Passes the Torch

Karen Shroyer now helms the c-store business she grew up learning.   By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor After more than 35 years in the c-store business, Jim and Pat Fash, owners and founders of Jiffy Mini Marts Inc. retired in 2011, passing ownership of the family business down to their daughter Karen Shroyer, a member

Joe Sheetz

Joe Sheetz Takes Charge

In addition to being named president of the family-owned convenience store chain, Sheetz was named vice chairman of the NACS Research Committee. By John Lofstock, Editor While all retailers maintain a busy work schedule, Joe Sheetz has had a whirlwind six months.  In October, Sheetz formally advanced into the position of president and CEO for

carwash

Opportunities Abound at the Car Wash

Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits, said Jim Callahan, director of marketing for Geo. H. Green Oil Co. in Atlanta. “To succeed with a car wash, you must be convinced that it is worth the effort. I

Convenience Store Sales Post Record Sales

U.S. convenience stores reached record in-store sales in 2013, with sales climbing 2.4% to $204 billion. Combined with motor fuels sales of $491.5 billion, overall convenience store sales were $695.5 billion, according to figures released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). The industry’s 2013 numbers were announced at the NACS State of

Lighting

Lighting Upgrades Drive Operations Efficiencies

NOCO Express, with 35 c-stores throughout Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., has been bringing its interior and exterior store lighting to the next level. In the three stores the chain has constructed over the last two years, NOCO has added compact fluorescent dimmable ceiling fixtures that are connected to a light-harvesting program. The buildings gain natural

electonic payment systems2

New Payment Systems Show Promise

When it comes to electronic payment systems, convenience and petroleum retailers have a definite need for speed. “You want to get people out of the lines as fast as possible,” said Rick Oglesby, senior analyst with Aite Group, a Boston-based research firm specializing in the financial services industry. “That’s what makes convenience stores so appealing.”

prepaid 2

Prepaid Cards Find Wide Appeal

Open loop, petroleum and in-store gift card sales were at $115 billion in 2012, according to Mercator Advisory Group, an independent organization that provides research and advisory services to the global payments and banking industries. This year, the category is expected to increase to $120 billion, then to $124 billion in 2014. And the growth

security cash management

Cash Management Begins with Best Practices

To prevent lost revenues from internal theft, retailers will be looking to advanced technology for more effective ways to monitor their stores, said Ted Roccagli, retail marketing manager/business coach at Mansfield Oil, which serves more than 300 convenience stores throughout the country. Mansfield is recommending video surveillance equipment that interfaces with POS and connects with

loyalty program

Cultivating a Loyal Audience

Loyalty programs were once value-added perks. Today, consumers not only expect them, but they also demand good deals. Indeed, an attractive loyalty program can sway a consumer away from a competitor with lower gas prices. “Over the last 10 years, particularly the last three, loyalty programs are playing a large role,” said Pat Lewis, president

POS

Expanding Point-of-Sale Potential

Increasingly, a good point-of-sale (POS) system must play well with others. Not only should it integrate well with other software platforms, such as business intelligence software, but it must also be easy to deploy, easy to use and easy to enhance. Many POS platforms are embracing standardization that allows them to integrate with existing software

tobacco assessories lighters

Lighters Lead Tobacco Accessories

As turbulent as the tobacco business has been in recent years, accessories, such as lighters, have remained calm and consistent, if not a bright spot on the front counter for most convenience store chains. “This is one of the most profitable parts of the business,” said Tariq Khan, CEO of Sentar Oil Inc., a four-store

cigarettes2

Cigarettes Continue to Draw Customers

Under fire now for more than a decade, cigarettes remain among the most important in-store categories in convenience stores. Cigarettes, along with other tobacco products (OTP), combined to account for 40.7% of in-store sales, according to the 2013 NACS State of the Industry Report. However, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), cigarette sales in the

ryo tobacco

Optimism for RYO Tobacco

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco will continue to put convenience store operators to the test over the next couple of years—enduring the ongoing legislative assault on all tobacco products while continuing to carry it to provide greater variety and service to loyal consumers. “Roll-your-own tobacco is important for those retailers that are creating a ‘destination stop’ for

smokeless tobacco2

Smokeless Tobacco Still Dominates OTP

The smokeless tobacco category continued its upward trajectory in 2013 thanks to ongoing manufacturer promotions and a growing customer interest in alternative tobacco products to supplement their smoking habits. Manufacturers are capitalizing on the strong sales demand by introducing more products in an array of flavors. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 20, 2014, the

ecigarettes

E-Cigarette Sales Set to Surge in 2014

Even though e-cigarette category dollar sales started 2014 with slight deceleration, growth is expected to remain “robust” going forward, according to Wells Fargo Securities. The convenience store channel saw $45.2 million in sales over the four weeks ended Jan. 18, 2014, plus e-cigs accounted for another $12.4 million in national, cross-outlet markets. “This implies about

cigars

Growing Cigar Sales

Not much has been predictable about the tobacco category over the past 18 months. Huge tax increases have renewed questions about just how much money smokers are willing to invest in their habit, and whether cigarette smokers would merely switch their nicotine fixes to other tobacco products, such as cigars. Amid the upheaval, the cigar

Several Granola Bars Isolated on a White Background with Narrow Depth of Field.

Healthy Snacking Providing New Opportunities

The sweet snacks category shows no sign of slowing down, thanks to a combination of product innovation, smaller portion sizes, enduring brand power and retailers’ recognition that it earns every inch of its shelf space. “The category is doing great,” said Wade Hollis, senior manager of category buyers for Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores.

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Seeds and Nuts Bolster Healthy Snack Sales

Nuts and seeds satisfy too many of Americans’ basic needs—starting with health and convenience—for the brisk sales they are enjoying to slow down any time soon.“People are looking for healthier food,” said John Tomlinson, director of purchasing and merchandising for Duchess Shoppes, in Heath, Ohio, which operates 123 Duchess Shoppes. “That’s why they are heading

meat snacks

Strong Outlook for Meat Snacks

Estimates from Chicago-based Mintel Group, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey and other data, project solid growth for meat snacks all the way through at least 2015, when they should top $1.3 billion While regular-flavored meat and beef jerky products are the most popular based on usage, the research showed, teriyaki

gum and mints

Mints Offer Optimism in Confectionery Segment

While a staple in convenience stores, gum sales continued their decline last year, down 7.2% in dollar sales and almost 8% in unit sales from 2012, according to data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). Dollar sales of regular gum declined a little over 6%, unit sales more than 10%, while sugarless decreased 7.4% in dollar

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