NATIONAL REPORT — Is the foodservice category cooling off a bit? It would appear so based on the fewer number of convenience store retailers who expect their foodservice sales to increase in 2017, vs. the number who held a positive outlook last year, according to the findings of the 15th annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study.
The CSNews Forecast Study provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories based on data from various sources, including Nielsen for category sales history; TDLinx for store counts; and government sources for motor fuel volume and pricing data. The data is then run through a sophisticated projection model and presented in summary form. Maureen Maguire, founder and CEO of New York-based ThinkResearch, oversees the Forecast Study process.
Heading into 2017, 73.5 percent of retailers polled believe that their foodservice sales — which include prepared food and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages — will increase in the next year. This compares to 82.4 percent who felt the same way heading into 2016.
Another year-over-difference that suggests a category cool-off is that this time around, there is a small contingent of retailers (2.9 percent) that anticipates their foodservice sales will decrease in 2017. There were zero respondents the previous year who expected a sales decline.
And even among those who hold a positive 2017 outlook on foodservice, the net change in per-store sales they project is lower in this year’s study: 6.8 percent, vs. 9.1 percent for 2016.
When asked what trends will have the biggest impact on the category in the year ahead, c-store retailers repeated three words: fresh, healthy and quick. Several also said their focus for 2017 will be on offering a wider selection, and building loyalty among their customers.
"People on the go still need their quick food fix," one retailer commented.
Look in the January issue of Convenience Store News for the full Forecast Study.