C-store Industry Investing Billions in Store Remodels

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In 2015 the U.S. convenience store industry cumulatively invested more than $6 billion in store upgrades nationwide, reported NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

The average cost of a store remodel in 2015 was $409,582, a 40-percent increase from an average remodel cost in 2011. With 12 percent of all c-stores undergoing remodels last year, the industry committed to more than $6.3 billion to making improvements.

The industry also invested billions of dollars in new store builds. The cost to build a new c-store in a rural neighborhood topped $4.36 million in 2015. In an urban market, the cost was roughly $500,000 more per store than rural locations, averaging $4.87 million due to the higher real estate costs, even though the lots and stores are typically smaller, according to NACS. Rural lots average 80,052 square feet vs. 71,525 for urban stores, and rural stores average 4,938 square feet vs. 4,594 square feet.

Total costs for a new store build in 2015 were:

  • The cost of the building itself was 37 percent of the total cost of the new store build.
  • An additional 37 percent of overall costs were dedicated to equipment costs, particularly for foodservice, motor fuel and technology.   
  • The remainder of costs were for land (22 percent) and inventory (4 percent).

The average interval between store models is 10 years, while the average age of registered vehicles in the United States. is 11-and-a-half years, which means more than likely, the typical car pulling into a c-store is older than the store itself, the association stated.  

When it came to operations, c-store operators are twice as likely to own their stores rather than lease them. In 2015, 68 percent of new stores built were owned and the remaining 32 percent were leased.

With constant reinvestment by the c-store industry, there are few remaining old or historical c-stores, with few exceptions. Reighard's in Altoona, Pa., claims to be the oldest-existing gas station, dating to 1909, followed by a former Big Top in Denver that first opened in 1965, which makes it the oldest c-store that has continually sold gas.

"Instead, today's convenience stores are often very contemporary, and owners regularly upgrade stores to add modern conveniences, especially as stores continue to invest in new services and foodservice programs," said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. "Convenience stores don't just serve communities — they invest in them. With this large investment, they have a stake in the community's success and seek to enhance it."

Alexandria.-based NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Editor's note: To see the best chain and single-store owner remodels of last year, check out Convenience Store News' 2015 Store Design Contest winners.