NATIONAL REPORT — More convenience store retailers are putting an emphasis on fresh and healthy eating and with that comes a focus on expanding edible grocery offerings.
The trajectory over the past few years is noticeable. In 2014, c-store retailers grew the category by a mere 1.6 percent in overall dollar sales and notched only a 0.4-percent uptick in dollar sales per store.
What a difference 12 months made. The numbers for 2015 put the estimated growth at 4.8 percent in total industry dollar sales and 4 percent in dollar sales per store. Unit volume is also estimated to have increased 5 percent last year.
2016 looks to bring more of the same. According to the exclusive 2016 Convenience Store News Industry Forecast Study, edible grocery unit volume per store is forecasted to increase 5.4 percent, with dollar sales per store up 4.6 percent and total industry dollar sales growing by a healthy 5.5 percent.
The almost mirror images of 2015 and 2016 follow in line with c-store retailers' own expectations. Nearly half of all retailer respondents to CSNews’ study anticipate their sales in the category will remain the same this year, while only 15.8 percent expect sales to dip.
Within those numbers, approximately one-third of chain operators are penciling in an increase in 2016 sales, and single-store operators are even a little more optimistic.
As for which trends retailers see having an effect on the category, many cite an increase in healthy product awareness as a positive trend. On the negative side, some do note that the smaller size of their stores do not allow for much in grocery offerings.
For full results of our 14th annual Forecast Study, including dollar and unit projections in other key c-store product categories, look in the January issue of Convenience Store News.