NATIONAL REPORT — Adult smokers trying to kick the habit may be bad news for the cigarettes category at convenience stores, but they could be a silver lining for the health and beauty care (HBC) category.
According to new data and analysis provided to Convenience Store News from Nielsen, HBC sales in the convenience channel dipped 2 percent over the two-year span from 2012 to 2014. The hit largely came from a decline in the liquid vitamins/supplements/energy shots segment.
This segment accounts for a third of HBC sales in the channel, but has been declining by double-digit percentages since 2012. Nielsen numbers show the segment had $65,086,539 in sales during the four weeks ended Nov. 24, 2012. It finished 2014 with $55,320,048 in sales for the four weeks ended Dec. 20.
"While a recent research report from the Natural Marketing Institute and Nielsen identified that the number of consumers who 'want more' caffeine has doubled from 2009 to 2013, we are seeing that sales of energy shots sold in the convenience channel have declined 15 percent from 2012 to 2014," said Sherry Frey, vice president of the Nielsen Perishables Group.
On the bright side in the HBC category, more consumers are turning to smoking cessation aides. It is one of the fastest-growing HBC segments in convenience stores, increasing more than 800 percent over the same two-year period, Nielsen reported.
Specifically, c-stores registered $18,221 in smoking cessation sales during the four-week period ended Nov. 24, 2012. As of the four-week period ended Dec. 20, 2014, that figure hit $470,713. Not surprisingly, the four-week period ended Jan. 17 of this year — which included the New Year's holiday — saw c-store channel sales reach $959,031.
Nielsen data reveals some other key HBC insights for the convenience channel as well. For instance, cough and cold remedy sales peak during the winter months, but consumers are still buying about half as much during the summer months. In addition, baby care sales have dropped 38 percent in c-stores since 2012, while cosmetics have grown by nearly the same amount (34 percent).