C-stores Offer What Shoppers Are Seeking: Time 


ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The holiday shopping season kicked off with a bang, with an estimated 164 million people shopping during the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, projections from the National Retail Federation show.

However, the record number of holiday shoppers during those five days is eclipsed by the estimated 165 million people who shop at a convenience store every day, according to Time to Shop, a new report released by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

"Half of America stops at a convenience store every day, though people may not even think about the experience because it is so quick and convenient," said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. "Throughout the remainder of the year plenty of holiday shoppers will visit convenience stores to fill up their cars, grab a quick drink or snack as they hit the roads, or even buy gift cards and stocking stuffers at c-stores."

Time To Shop highlights a few insights into how Americans shop at convenience stores, like:

Convenient Locations

Ninety-three percent of Americans live within 10 minutes of a convenience store, including 86 percent of those living in rural areas. Convenient location was cited as the top convenience attribute by consumers (33 percent), outpacing other convenience offerings including "no lines" (30 percent), plenty of parking spots close to the store (9 percent) and the ability to order online (6 percent).

One-stop Shopping

Forty-eight percent of gas customers said they went inside the store the last time they purchased fuel. Of those purchasing an item, 53 percent said they went inside primarily to purchase a beverage.

Speed of Service

Nearly half of all customers (45 percent) said they were in and out of the store with a purchase in under three minutes. Meanwhile, 21 percent spent more than five minutes inside the store, most likely because they were ordering prepared food or dining inside the store.

New Convenience Opportunities

Frequent convenience store customers are most likely to embrace retailers that offer instant pay or cashier-less checkout solutions. Both online ordering for in-store pickup and ordering items from other stores that could be picked up at in-store lockers were also heavily favored by frequent convenience store customers.

Time to Shop features data collected from national consumer surveys conducted this year by public opinion research firm PSB. The complete report is available for download here.

Alexandria-based NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries