C-store Shopper Study Delves Into COVID's Foodservice Impact

Linda Lisanti
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NATIONAL REPORT — The convenience store industry has spent much of 2020 playing defense against the coronavirus pandemic, rapidly changing in-store protocols to meet consumers' heightened safety and cleanliness expectations, and rolling out new services like delivery, curbside pickup and mobile/online ordering to fulfill the demand for contactless shopping options. 

Still, more than half of consumers (52 percent) say they are shopping at c-stores less during the pandemic than previously, while only 14 percent are shopping more, according to an exclusive shopper study conducted by Convenience Store News on changes in shopping frequency and behavior in the convenience channel during the pandemic.

Among the top reasons why consumers say they are shopping less at c-stores these days is because of changes in their daily routine due to the pandemic (many are working from home on a full-time or part-time basis); they're not filling up their vehicles with fuel as often; they're not traveling as much for leisure; and they're not eating out as often.

While nearly every c-store product category has been impacted in some way by COVID-19, the foodservice category has been among the hardest hit. Along with the decreased foot traffic, many retailers in the early days of the pandemic either opted to or were forced to shut down their fresh food and dispensed beverage programs to adhere to local COVID-19 safety precautions. While these programs have started to come back online, it's proving to be a slow climb to get the foodservice category back to where it was previously.

CSNews' exclusive shopper study also revealed the following: 


The survey was fielded from Aug. 20 to Aug. 24, and responses were gathered from 504 convenience store shoppers nationwide. In order to qualify, shoppers were required to be over 18 years old, reside in the U.S. and have shopped at c-stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. A mix of those who have shopped c-stores more, same or less were included. 

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