Lessons in Retail Leadership

Despite fast-changing customer expectations, shortened product and retail life cycles and rapid technological advancements, many retailers have not taken advantage of opportunities to innovate. By applying new perspectives to established ways of doing business, convenience store retailers can strengthen their competitive and financial positions, improve the customer experience and create a new life cycle of

Emphasizing Category Management

 By: John Lofstock, Editor. Convenience Store Decisions‘ annual Category Management Outlook issue is routinely one of my favorite issues of the year because it gives the CSD staff an opportunity not only to analyze the industry’s performance over the past 12 months, but to forecast the sales trends retailers can expect to see over the

Preparing for Higher Pump Prices

While these difficult economic times continue to peck away at customers’ disposable income, fuel prices are creeping up, which will only further erode discretionary spending. Gasoline prices nationally have increased steadily since September, rising nearly 60 cents to an average of $3.11 for a gallon of regular unleaded, according to the Department of Energy at

Building the Business

Quality employees and customer service are the backbone of the convenience store and petroleum industry. All you have to do is observe how top quartile companies treat and respect their personnel to understand what kind of asset frontline employees can be to a successful company. It’s no accident that these operators are outperforming their competitors

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Tracking the Trends

While the convenience store industry is in a much better position to withstand the strains of the current economic recession, one thing is painfully clear. Customers are changing the way they buy goods and services and retailers must keep up with those changes to avoid becoming obsolete. A new generation of Millennials, those born between

Saluting Family Businesses

I just got back from the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) 2010 Ideas Conference in Charleston, S.C., and came away with a much better understanding of the issues facing small businesses and family-owned companies. Whether it’s dealing with the massive overhaul of the U.S. medical system, costly PCI compliance investments that yield no ROI or embracing

Rutter’s Rises as Chain of the Year

Outstanding leadership, great stores and unsurpassed customer service are the hallmarks of the convenience store industry’s exceptional chains. Following these guiding principles, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to announce Rutter’s Farm Stores as the 2010 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. Rutter’s, which supplants Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes as Chain of the Year, is

Building Relationships at the National Advisory Group

Throughout my 15 years of covering the convenience store industry, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, develop lifelong friendships and watch in awe as otherwise ordinary people learned to work together to produce extraordinary results. Throughout that time I’ve also seen countless people come and go. For some, the industry was a

Deadline Day is Here

A baker puts two muffins in an oven. The first muffin turns to the other and says, “Boy it’s hot in here.” The second muffin screams, “Yikes, a talking muffin.” Hopefully convenience store chains are not nearly this surprised when it comes to this month’s PCI deadlines. However, at the NACStech conference in April, several

Welcome Back NAG

As the industry continues its rapid evolution, CSD is stepping up its efforts to provide convenience store operators with the tools they need to be successful. To that end, CSD is proud to announce two premiere events in the coming months. First and foremost, the National Advisory Group (NAG) begins its rise back to prominence

All in the Family

In these difficult economic times it’s rewarding to meet successful businesses that are doing things the right way. It’s even more gratifying when these businesses are family owned and operated. Such is the case with High’s of Baltimore. There aren’t too many 82-year-old companies in this industry that I’m not familiar with, but I admit

Strength in Numbers

Resilient, tough and tested. These are just a few of the words analysts and retailers alike used to describe the convenience store and petroleum industry over the past 12 months. With the economy suffering its most difficult period in some 80 years, convenience stores held up rather admirably considering how consumer confidence plunged and the

Time to Get Fresh

If you’re not doing foodservice, consider this your call to action. As the economic downturn eases, the restaurant industry will see a gradual improvement in 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Industry sales are expected to reach $580 billion this year, up 2.5% in current dollars over 2009. But that’s

New Year, New Opportunities

For many convenience store chains, 2009 could not end soon enough. A challenging economy, higher operating costs, outrageous credit card fees and an onslaught of new tobacco taxes were just some of the issues retailers had to contend with. In our ongoing effort to provide readers with the tools they need to make informed decisions,

Lessons Learned from Challenging Year

There’s no doubt that 2009 will go down as one of the most challenging years ever for the convenience store and petroleum industry. Combined with the poor economy that plagued marketers all year, credit card fees and tobacco regulations added fuel to a fire that, quite honestly, was already burning out of control. For this

Nice Guys Do Finish First

Congratulations to Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2009 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. The Chain of the Year award remains the oldest and most prestigious award in the industry. This year is our 20th anniversary of presenting the distinction to a deserving chain and we’re honored to have recognized some of

Opportunities Abound

The NACS Show is my annual reminder of just how much innovation exists among the many talented retailers and suppliers I communicate with every day. I expect this year’s show—amazingly the 14th of my career—to be one of the most interesting I’ve ever attended. While the event has so much to offer, a black cloud

Names to Remember

August is always one of my favorite issues of the year. It’s the month we get to profile convenience store “Chains to Watch” for the next 12 months. This year we’ve focused in on two outstanding chains, Stripes, a division of Susser Holdings in Corpus Christi, Texas, and EZ Energy, a rapidly growing operator based

A Call to Action

Of all the issues I’ve worked on at Convenience Store Decisions, this month’s issue stands out for the sense of urgency conveyed throughout the numerous stories. Beginning with Bob Gatty’s outstanding cover story on the opportunities in the candy category to PCI compliance, Hispanic marketing and emerging tobacco trends, retailers are being challenged at every

Convenience Concerns

I was getting breakfast at my local convenience store recently, an unbranded joint close to my office, when I noticed a new addition to the store. Right by one of the two pay stations was a neatly handwritten sign that read, “No Cell Phones in Line.” I have to admit this message surprised me. The

The Tax Train Keeps Rolling

January could not end soon enough. The industry hasn’t seen such a tumultuous month since November 1998 when Congress first turned to tobacco as its financial panacea. Big Brother was at it again last month with the U.S. Senate passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—including all of the cigarette and tobacco tax rate

Honoring Our Past

This month begins a very special year for Convenience Store Decisions. Throughout 2009 we are committed to recognizing the leaders and innovators that have shaped the convenience store and petroleum industry and helped create this multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Legends in Retailing will focus on the challenges operators faced in the early days of the industry,

Feel the Power

Convenience Store Decisions is proud this month to present our Power 25 issue. The Power 25 recognizes industry pioneers, association executives and manufacturers that shape the way the convenience store industry operates. These prominent leaders were selected for the lasting contributions they have made to the convenience channel and the impact their influence has on

Finding Balance

Whether it’s maneuvering the fine line between hard work and spending enough quality time with the wife and kids or walking home after one too many at the local pub, finding the right balance is the crucial difference separating success from a split lip. In his poignant memoir, “From Smart to Lucky: Leadership Lessons from

Overcoming Adversity

Good things happen to good people. That’s an axiom we’ve all heard from the moment we were able to distinguish right from wrong. For Jeff Morris, president and CEO of Alon USA, that was a concept he struggled to wrap his brain around eight months ago. Morris has enjoyed a reputation as a great leader

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