Prepaid Cards: The Sky’s the Limit

Prepaid cards have been used in the U.S. for about 20 years, and forward-thinking marketers continue finding new ways to use and promote them. This is a boon for convenience retailers, many of whom have been instrumental in growing the category. Prepaid cards were invented in Europe in the mid-70s when Italians found themselves short

Light Beers Poised for A Big Year

Think the U.S. leads the world in beer consumption? Think again. Though America has a larger population than beer-drinking countries like Germany or Britain, the winner in this year’s beer sales sweepstakes is a brew many Americans have probably never heard of: A Chinese beer named Snow. “SAB-Miller was going to roll Snow beer into

The Night They Burned Tobacco Down

Increases on cigarettes have put the category’s long-term viability in jeopardy. By Jim Callahan, Convenience Store Solutions I recently saw a statistic that declared tobacco was no longer king in convenience stores. While that is not yet true for most of us, it’s about to become an indisputable fact. The entire country now gets to

Functional Focus

The bright light in the bottled water category remains enhanced waters, which consumers looking for more than just refreshment are coming to appreciate. That said, selling enhanced–or any other bottled waters in troubled economic times–means taking greater advantage of supplier programs and doing some savvy marketing and merchandising. The year just passed was difficult on

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

When One Size Fits All Doesn’t Fit

I have always been a c-store guy, I just did not realize it until I became affiliated with this publication and started paying more attention to the intricacies of the segment.  Thanks to my wife, I rarely go to the grocery store anymore–she actually likes the experience. I also rarely take the time to enjoy

Focused on the Franchise

BP At a Glance BP is one of the largest integrated oil companies in the world, with an estimated global market share of around 3% of oil & gas production and 4% of refining capacity in the major global markets in which it operates. Its U.S. retailing brands are BP, ARCO and ampm. Global sales:

Can Packaging Boost Sales?

The Anti-Styrofoam Brigade C-store retailers beware. If the current political and regulatory trends continue, you may have to find an alternative packaging that doesn’t contain Styrofoam, and fast. Because non-biodegradable garbage threatens more and more marine and coastal ecosystems as it continues to accumulate in the world’s oceans, California legislators have introduced a bill that

Recovering With New Tax Breaks

Shortly after last November’s election, Thomas Zaucha, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association (NGA) called upon the President-elect to kindle the economy with a stimulus package that included “tax incentives used by retailers and wholesalers to invest in technology, energy saving equipment and trucks for their businesses.” President Obama’s reply, The American Recovery

Is Green in Your Future?

Being green. You can’t go a day without hearing about it. Escalating energy costs and a renewed awareness of the environment have put green initiatives at the top of the agenda for the global convenience industry. Retail industry leaders such as Walmart and Tesco are setting targets to reduce energy use by at least 20%.

You Are Known by the Company You Keep

The contacts and friends you make in this industry can become lifelong confidants. This one’s personal. As the saying goes, this is not my first rodeo, but amazingly I’ve come through with very few of life’s saddle sores. Now in my 40th year in the industry, I’ve worked for some amazing people, learned many valuable

The Impact of Tobacco Federal Excise Taxes

The increase of federal and state cigarette excise taxes will have a far-reaching, negative impact on the convenience store industry. With the exception of petroleum products, no other category is more vital to the industry’s success than tobacco products. Given that cigarettes represent 30-45% of c-store inside sales, the deterioration of this category will have

Innovation Drives Frozen Sales

  TOP PERFORMERS Coca-Cola Co. PepsiCo ICEE (J&J Snack Foods) HONORABLE MENTIONS F’Real! Foods Dr Pepper (Dr Pepper Snapple Group) Slush Puppie (J&J Snack Foods) It’s little surprise that The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo were ranked as top performers in the dispensed cold beverages category, but innovators like J&J Snack Foods and F’Real! are certainly

Sunoco Downsizing

Sunoco Inc. said it is selling off 165 convenience stores and gas stations in the Eastern U.S.  The properties are located in selected markets in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Philadelphia-based Sunoco operates a network of approximately 4,700 retail sites—including the APlus

Road Ranger Growing

Tough economic times mean new opportunities and Road Ranger just found one. The Rockville, Ill., convenience store chain entered into operating lease agreements for 15 Fast Break Food Mart gasoline and convenience stores in the Louisville, Ky., market. The deal increases Road Ranger’s network of travel centers and convenience stores to 88 locations in seven

Service Reigns Supreme

There is no greater ally for convenience store owners than their supplier partners. When retailers boost sales and satisfy their customers, everyone in the supply chain benefits. When Convenience Store Decisions launched its Reader’s Choice Awards four years ago, our premise was simple: To find out just who retailers identified as their top supplier partners.

Energy Drinks Holding Strong

Energy Crash Ahead? Driven by studies that demonstrate the adverse impacts high levels of caffeine have, a “truth-in-labeling” movement is gaining strength that may strongly impact energy drink retailers from Maine to California and could raise liability issues for the fastest-growing products in the cold vault.Because energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements rather than

Demographics Driving Cold, Frozen Sales

From movie promotions at 7-Eleven to new flavors, the cold and frozen category is generating some excitement despite the presence of chilly temperatures in many parts of the country. Actually, where you live may well play a large part in what customers want to see in your cold dispensers.  Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public affairs

Bursting With Energy

Sultry Sales One new energy-shot sales trend WSCO’s general retail manager Darrell Looney sees is that some shots are being touted as aphrodisiacs. “The last NACS show was the first time I really noticed the presence of products that specifically spoke to potency and endurance,” Looney said, adding that it’s probably too soon to tell

Driving HBC Sales

Convenience store operators preparing to expand their health and beauty care (HBC) category in time for the summer months may be facing some challenges. With the moribund economy depressing impulse sales across retail, this may be a bad summer for new products, while tried-and-true brands of medicines, sunscreen, sunglasses and other warm-weather favorites remain strong.

Choosing the Right ATM

With the number of ATMs in service across America rising and their average transaction dipping for a decade, convenience store operators face a variety of choices in how they choose to deploy them. Viewed as revenue generators or simply services for customers, cash machines present c-store executives with a variety of options and challenges, beginning

What’s Your Solution?

SKU SLEUTH … Rick Cosmer, vice president of retail sales and operations at Mansfield Oil Co. in Georgia, has found cutting-edge back-office systems can offer huge payoffs in terms of data analysis and sales tracking. Cosmer said the most powerful piece of his system allows him to drill down J.D. to individual products to determine

Java Jolts Beverage Sales

According to a recent study from the National Coffee Association, more coffee-drinkers than ever before say their favorite brew improves mental focus and provides health benefits. Not surprisingly, consumption of coffee now surpasses that of soft drinks—and while the gap is still narrow, daily consumption of coffee is pointing directionally higher. Young adults are the

Riding Out the Economic Storm

Facing one of the most difficult financial crises in the nation’s history, convenience store operators must maximize store performance and drive efficiencies. That old axiom “fall back, spring ahead” takes on an entirely new meaning for 2009. Faced with the worst recession in more than half a century, springing ahead means fighting for survival for

New Jersey ExxonMobil Dealers Unite

By John Lofstock, Editor When ExxonMobil Corp. announced last June that it was getting out of direct-store operations, dealers of its venerable retail brands found themselves at a crossroads. They could either be on the receiving end of the deed to their own properties or be forced to work with a new master and an

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