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02/10/2021

Convenience Channel Starts 2021 With Uptick in Consumer Spending & Trips

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Consumer spending at convenience stores picked up in January, kickstarting sales gains and topping numbers from December 2020 and the third quarter of 2020.

According to the latest monthly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 is affecting consumer behavior, higher spending and increased trips in all dayparts except for the morning rush are reasons for the uptick in sales, reported NACS Daily.

Although the convenience channel isn't entirely out of the woods in terms of recovering the trips lost since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, the improved performance is a good start to 2021, the association stated.

For the four weeks ended Jan. 31, dollar sales increased to +10 percent vs. +2 percent for the four weeks ended Jan. 3.

Trips year-over-year improved three points to -10.2 percent for the most recent four-week period vs. -13.2 percent for the prior four weeks. The late-evening daypart (7 to 10:59 p.m.) was the biggest beneficiary, with trips up 6.3 points over the prior four-week period. The morning rush, which was once integral to c-store inside sales performance, has stubbornly remained at 85 percent of prior year trips for the 7 to 9:59 a.m. time slot since late November.

Spend per transaction — which has been a bright spot for the convenience sector throughout much of the pandemic compared with pre-pandemic levels — climbed to +22.5 percent for the four weeks ended Jan. 31 vs. +17.5 percent for the prior four-week period.

Another encouraging sign is that most categories improved year-over-year in terms of dollars and trips. Lottery/gaming saw a double-digit jump that can be tied to record jackpots in January, up 20.9 points from -16.8 percent for the four weeks ended Jan. 3, to +4.1 percent for the four weeks ended Jan. 31.

In January, the winning ticket for a $1 billion prize Mega Millions jackpot was sold at a Kroger grocery store in Novi, Mich. The winning ticket for a $731 million Powerball jackpot was sold at Coney Market, a convenience store in Lonaconing, Md., and three other $1 million Powerball winners from the same drawing purchased their tickets at convenience stores/gas stations in New Jersey, including 7-Eleven, Exxon and Wawa.

The biweekly report from PDI and NACS is powered by PDI Insights Cloud and provides consumer trip and basket-level data and analysis. Click here for the full report.