NATIONAL REPORT — Consumers' tendency to replace regular, full meals with on-the-go snacking is nothing but good news for the convenience retail channel.
After slower sales growth in 2015, the salty snacks category, which includes potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, ready-to-eat popcorn, nuts and seeds, is expected to rebound and show stronger growth this year, according to the exclusive 2016 Convenience Store News Industry Forecast Study.
Total industry dollar sales grew an estimated 4.4 percent in 2015. This was a drop from the actual 9.3-percent growth the category saw in 2014, according to the Forecast Study data. This year, however, total dollar sales are expected to gain more momentum and reach nearly 7-percent growth.
On a per-store basis, unit volume is forecasted to grow 3.2 percent, marking a slight increase over 2015's estimated 2.8-percent increase. Higher prices have boosted dollar sales, which are forecasted to show nearly twice the growth at 6 percent per store, up from an estimated 3.6 percent in 2015.
Retailers expect the continued popularity of snacking to contribute to the growth of salty snack sales this year, with 64.1 percent of retailers saying they believe their sales in this category will increase and 25.6 percent expecting sales to stay the same. Chain retailers alone are even more bullish, with nearly three-quarters believing their sales will increase.
The new year will also bring "increased variety and less dependence on large suppliers with low margins," one retailer predicted.
Other retailers expect awareness of and innovation in healthy items to have a big impact.
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.