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

Social Networking Takes Retail by Storm

Speedy Personalized DealsChristianna Frizzell, customer relationship manager for Speedway SuperAmerica, said the best online responses will come from email blasts and text message campaigns if you know your demographic and keep contact timely and relevant. It can also be helpful to look at how customers are contacting you. For example, are they emailing or calling

Securing the Store

C-store operators are increasingly turning to advanced electronics to help stem the time of theft both internally and externally, including “smart” surveillance cameras and Internet-based security systems that can prompt and warn cashiers and track and record every store transaction. Stuart Levine, CEO of The Zellman Group in Port Washington, N.Y., a nationwide retail and

Would You Like Wi-Fi With That?

Wi-Fi is a trendy offering customers are clamoring for, and it’s starting to appear at more c-store locations, including BP, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes and Rutter’s Farm Stores, especially as chains expand their foodservice programs and look for new ways to pull foot traffic into the store. Coffee shops, such as Starbucks have long

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

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,”

Realizing Prepaid’s Potential

The major prepaid areas c-store retailers are going to want to watch over the next year are general purpose reloadable cards (GPR), both open and closed loop gift cards, and cards for digital media, game and ring tones. The economy especially has spurred the growth of GPR products. “You’re going to see more folks buying

Core Brands Drive Candy

The confectionery retail market grew across all trade channels in 2009, but supermarkets, dollar stores and warehouse clubs outpaced the overall retail market in 2009, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA). NCA also noted c-stores brought in $4.6 billion in dollar sales in 2009, up 3%. Seasonal confectionary sales were up 1.2% in 2009

Brands, Promotions Benefit CSDs

Concern For CSDs 16 million fewer Americans are drinking sugary soft drinks today compared to six years ago (68% of adults versus 76%). 7.8 million switched to diet soft drinks. 24 million have moved to bottled water. 17 million are opting for energy drinks. 11 million have tried sports drinks. 16 percent of Americans are

Putting the Back-Office to Work

Inside the Numbers: Zarco 66 8 Number of stores. $35 million Total annual systemwide revenue. $20,000 Cost of its new POS/back office system on the front end. $70,000 Cost of its new POS/back office system on the back end. 25% Percentage of store sales from foodservice at the chain’s first store with the new system

Customer Surge in Snacking

The dried meat snacks category overall (including jerky) celebrated a healthy 2009 ringing up more $872.48 million in total dollar sales, up about 1% compared to 2008. Unit sales, however, slipped 3% to 424.43 million for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009, according to Information Resources (IRI) . Breaking down the category by segment,

Juices and Teas Bounce Back

Innovation, health and pricing are some of the factors that will help or hinder c-store operators looking to make money with juices and teas in 2010. While juices and teas have struggled over the past few years, 2009 was sort of a renaissance year for the category as both segments experienced sales gains. Overall, for

Raising the Bar on Energy Sales

The first sports and energy bars in the U.S. were marketed primarily to serious athletes, through alternative channels such as health food stores. These bars did not have wide appeal or distribution as recently as 1990, but over the past two decades these products have since gained mass appeal and distribution after greatly improving flavor

Buzzing Over Beer Sales

State of beer: Despite a strong outlook for 2010, U.S. beer shipments dropped by 2.2% in 2009. Thousands of        Barrels Shipped $2,008 2,009 Change Anheuser-Busch $107,025 104,800 ($2,225.00) MillerCoors $64,500 63,300 ($1,200.00) Crown Imports $11,583 11,000 ($583.00) Heineken USA $8,960 8,575 ($385.00) Pabst $5,900 5,700 ($125.00) Selling beer, wine and other adult

Marketing Cigars in Tough Times

Despite the SCHIP tobacco taxes that hit on April 1, 2009, cigar sales continue to persevere. The federal taxes on large cigars rose from 20.719% of the wholesale price with a tax cap of 4.875 cents per cigar to 52.75% of the wholesale price with a tax cap of 40.26 cents per cigar. The tax

Renewed Optimism for Smokeless tobacco and tobacco chewing products

The simple truth is that no one is certain what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will come up with next now that it has been given de facto control of the tobacco industry. But between bureaucratic control freaks, national, state and local taxes, and even the whispered fear of retailer liability concerns ahead, many

Rolling Right Along

Turning a Profit The times have changed. Just as c-store foodservice evolved to meet the needs of fresh, fast and friendly service, so have the items that star on the roller grill. “Gone are the days of the shriveled hot dog, whose origins and expiration date are unknown,” said Tim Powell, the c-store foodservice program

Dairy and Ice Cream Deliver Health, Value

DID YOU KNOW? After several years of decline, the frozen novelties category was up close to 2% for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009. Retailers can expect to see more customers eating at home, searching for value on purchases and buying more healthful food items, according to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA).

Perfecting Pizza

THE POWER OF PIZZA $38 Billion Estimated total annual sales in pizza restaurants. 70,000 Number of pizza restaurants across the country. $19.6 Billion Total revenue accounted for by the top four pizza chains (Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Caesars) Source: National Association of Pizzeria Operators To do well in 2010 with pizza, convenience store

Value is Key to HBC

In the HBC category, miscellaneous health remedies brought in $74,935,760 in dollar sales, a 4% decline from the previous year according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI) data for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009. Meanwhile the cold allergy and sinus liquids and tablets were down 11.6% for the same period. “We’re seeing increases in

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

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