Balancing the OTP Category

Will smokeless tobacco be able to capitalize on reduced-risk classification? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Last year, convenience store owners and operators along with other tobacco retailers were forced to empty out several slots of their smokeless tobacco racks because of a nationwide recall issued by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (USST), an operating

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Stripes Introduces New Selena Cups

The new cup was designed by New York artist San Sigü Enza and was created especially for the 2018 Fiesta de la Flor event. Stripes Stores is releasing two new limited-edition and limited-release Selena Commemorative Collectible cups that will be sold across Stripes stores in Texas and Louisiana April 7. Stripes took to its Facebook

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Tobacco Alternatives Heat Up

The popularity of pod devices and the growing buzz around heat-not-burn products have primed the e-cig/vaping category for a profitable start to the new year. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Philip Morris International (PMI)’s recent announcement was surprising: “We’re trying to give up cigarettes” on display in newspaper ads in the United Kingdom. The

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New Year = New Regulations

C-stores face more restrictions and taxes on cigarettes in 2018. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor As of Jan. 1, smokers in Aspen, Colo., are paying $3 more per pack of cigarettes than they did last month. Also, Oregonians must now be 21 in order to purchase any type of tobacco products in the state.

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Packaged to Sell

Where carbonated soft drinks are slipping, RTD coffees and sparkling water are picking up the slack. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor According to National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) data released this summer, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), energy and sports drinks, water, juices and teas, accounted for about 15% of total in-store sales for

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Big Data Decisions

Retailers are discovering the power of data to bolster their capacity to personalize the customer experience, increase sales and drive brand loyalty. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor No longer is each convenience store transaction a simple exchange of goods for cash. Technology empowers businesses to turn each purchase into an opportunity to mine information

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Renewed Hope for E-Tobacco

How will the FDA’s new deadlines affect the e-tobacco industry, and subsequently, profit margins for retailers? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Ever since Word emerged that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was to assume regulatory authority over e-cigarettes, manufacturers, distributors and retailers have been operating on pins and needles, waiting for the final

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Tapping Craft Beer Sales

Increasingly, customers expect their favorite c-stores to stock up on their favorite local and regional craft beers. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor This past July, the Brewers Association announced it is issuing a certified independent craft brewer label seal, available to qualified producers. The upside-down beer bottle image symbolizes the upending effect the craft

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Set for the Beverage Season?

C-stores hope consumers choose to beat summer’s heat with cold and frozen beverage offerings. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Twenty-two years ago, 7-Eleven rolled out “Operation Chill.” The community outreach program partners the national c-store chain with law enforcement agencies to solicit goodwill via Slurpee citations. Over the past two decades, more than 19

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What’s Ahead for E-Cigs?

From regulations to shifting consumer demand, e-cigarettes remain susceptible to various factors. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor On the surface, e-cigarettes are performing well in terms of OTP (other tobacco products) category sales. Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a Chicago-based market research firm, reported total sales of all electronic tobacco devices—e-cigarettes and vapors/tanks/mods—in U.S. convenience

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Optimistic About Vapor

Even though sales of vaping products appear to be on the upswing, c-stores remain cautious about the category’s future. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 released its final deeming regulations that classified vapors, tanks, mods (VTMs) and e-liquids as tobacco products, sales had been trailing

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Chocolate’s Sweet Possibilities

Could new product releases from big-brand confectioners boost the chocolate category for c-stores? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day make up the trifecta for chocolate sales. Not only do these holidays traditionally highlight the sweet treat as a special indulgence, but they’ve become a prime marketing opportunity for confectioners to

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Cooking with Flash

As foodservice garners a greater focus in c-stores, new equipment upgrades are making the category hotter. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When Parker’s recently renovated Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet, its flagship store in downtown Savannah, Ga., one of the primary objectives was to create the space to showcase its expanding foodservice offerings. “We listened

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E-Tobacco: What’s Next?

C-stores remain cautious with regards to what direction the e-cigarette and vaping industry is headed this year. By Anne Baye Ericksen Between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deeming regulations finally released last year and a bevy of new state taxes and regulations restricting who can sell or purchase tobacco and other-tobacco products, 2016

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Smoke and Mirrors?

Can ongoing price increases on cigarettes continue to compensate for dropping unit sales? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor In early November 2016, Philip Morris USA, owned by Altria Group Inc., Reynolds American Inc., and several other tobacco companies added eight cents to the per-pack wholesale price of their top cigarette brands. ITG Brands upped

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Do Meat Bars Match Up?

Meat bars forge a unique position in the meat snacks category. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Every once in a while, a new type of product enters the marketplace that doesn’t neatly fit into an existing category. Meat bars is one of the latest examples of this phenomenon. Although they contain many of the

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Ramping Up Regulation

Even as cities and states invoke new legislation, cigarette sales remain steady. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor On Election Day this year, voters in North Dakota will decide on who will be the next president and whether to approve a proposed tax hike on cigarettes. Since 1993, the state tax has held at a

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E-Cigs See Market Lift

As vaping and e-cigarette manufacturers adjust to FDA regulations, c-stores experience a reactionary marketplace. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released its final deeming regulations officially classifying electronic nicotine delivery systems as tobacco products, it granted manufacturers and retailers a 90-day grace period before the new restrictions

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Savory & Super Trendy, Meat Snacks Soar

Meat snacks maintain their firm grasp as a top-selling segment. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor “This is not your grandfather’s jerky,” said Norman Deschamps, an independent market analyst working with Packaged Facts, a market research publisher. Indeed, between people’s desire for protein, healthier snacks and premium products, the meat snacks category is undergoing a

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Tapping a Trend

Healthier sales of bottled water bode well for c-stores as packaged beverages continue to drive profits. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Flint, Mich., has been the epicenter of contaminated tap water. For more than 24 months, residents have battled authorities over how to clean up the lead-tainted water running through the city’s aging pipes.

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Water, Tea and Gen Z

Younger consumers are redefining top sellers among packaged beverages. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Earlier this year, John Archer noticed the display for LaCroix sparkling water in his local grocery store kept growing in size and prominence. He wondered what would happen if he elevated the brand’s real estate in his convenience store As

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Cigars Still Burn Brightly

Despite changes in tobacco regulations, convenience stores continue to cash in on this popular consumer product.     By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor For convenience stores, tobacco products remain the top sales driver despite significant alterations and protective measures tacked on to national, state and local regulations. While cigarettes have almost always been the target of

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Discovering New Energy

As summer gets underway, energy drink producers, as well as convenience stores, hope consumers will embrace new energy selections. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor The Beverage Buzz Memorial Day Retailer Survey by Wells Fargo Securities reported recently that beverage sales notched upward 5.5%, which is a slight improvement over the 4.9% recorded during last

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Vape Rules Released — Now What?

After much anticipation, the FDA has released deeming regulations that will change how the vapor industry does business from now on. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its draft of proposed regulations of various tobacco products that previously were not covered by the Family Smoking

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Stirring Up E-Cig Sales

Could the e-cigarette segment rebound now that federal regulations are finalized? By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor On May 5, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its deeming regulations, concluding that e-cigarettes fall within the same purview as other regulated tobacco products. Also of note, recent research results out of the United Kingdom

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