NATIONAL REPORT — As more convenience stores offer an expanded selection, grocery items are becoming more noticeable to c-store customers.
That being said, all signs are pointing to a flattening of the edible grocery category in 2017 when it comes to three major stats: industry dollar sales, dollar sales per store, and unit volume per store, 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.
Considering edible grocery is coming off a year of notable growth in all three metrics, though, this may not be particularly surprising. Estimated numbers for 2016 show edible grocery registering growth of 1.3 percent in industry dollar sales, 0.7 percent in dollar sales per store, and 1.1 percent in unit volume per store.
The predictions for 2017 call for a slowdown, with industry dollar sales forecasted to be flat (up a negligible 0.1 percent) and dollar sales per store ticking up 0.6 percent. However, unit volume per store could dip 0.8 percent, according to CSNews projections.
Retailers’ expectations are in line with the forecast. The majority of retailers surveyed expect edible grocery to run even in 2017 — 57.6 percent predict their edible grocery sales per store will stay the same for the year vs. 33.3 percent who think their sales will increase.
Conversely, 9.1 percent of retailers expect their sales of edible grocery to fall. According to one respondent, it "cannot compete because of the space available for these types of items."
Look in the January issue of Convenience Store News for the full Forecast Study.