C-store Beverage Trips Improving, Though Fountain Continues to Struggle


ADDISON, Texas — As the summer heat rages on, consumers are readily reaching for drinks to quench their thirst. According to the latest category data from Koupon Media, beverage trips are on the up-and-up in the convenience channel. 

Impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, overall beverage trips have increased 53 percent from early April. Bottled-drink trips have fully recovered on a year-over-year basis. On the flip side, fountain-drink trips remain down, by 11 percent.

Beverage sales for the period are down 3 percent overall vs. the prior year. There is good news, though: The category is experiencing some sales growth, being led by kombucha (up 15 percent), bottled juice (up 11 percent) and bottled coffee (up 3 percent).

On the other hand, fountain drink sales declined by 25 percent, with fountain coffee down approximately 40 percent. Overall, beverage units are down 9 percent.

According to Koupon Media, the difference between bottled drink and fountain drink sales and trips can be explained by a combination of two factors:

  1. Demand-based factor: Consumers are switching to bottled drinks due to hygiene concerns; and
  2. Supply-based factor: Due to lowered demand, c-store retailers are reducing fountain drink options.

Additionally, consumers are continuing to choose multi-pack options of bottled drinks — especially in the beer and bottled soda segments.

Looking at bottled soda, which represented 54 percent of total bottled drink sales for the period:

  • Single-serve represented 85 percent of bottled soda volume, but multi-pack units increased 42 percent vs. 2019.
  • Twelve-pack products experienced the greatest sales growth at 50 percent, while six-pack products grew 18 percent.
  • Single-serve bottled soda sales were down 9 percent.

The company attributes the increase in demand for multi-packs to fewer trips overall and expects this trend to sustain through the pandemic.

Addison-based Koupon Media works with brands to deploy personalized, channel-wide promotions, and helps retailers to secure additional brand trade spending and grow shopper engagement. Since its founding in 2011, it's delivered more than 4 billion offers.