Convenience Industry Store Count Tops 146,000

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Convenience Industry Store Count Tops 146,000

NEW YORK -- Evidence of other retail segments encroaching on the convenience channel comes from the latest convenience industry store count data, which attributed an increase in store count to more nonconvenience stores evolving to fit the NACS/TDLinx conventional definition of a c-store -- stores that include a broad merchandise mix, extended hours of operation and a minimum of 500 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

The census from NACS and TDLinx, a service of The Nielsen Co., the data firm that also supplies store count data for Convenience Store News' annual Industry Report, reported 146,294 convenience stores in the U.S. as of Dec. 31, 2007, a less than 1 percent increase over the 145,119 stores counted in 2006. The increase was also attributed to more stores opening than closing in 2007.

The NACS/TDLinx census found there is a significant amount of turnover in the channel, with more than 31 percent change in ownership, totaling 43,000 stores during 2007. Additionally, there were more than 7,700 locations closed and 8,300 opened during the year.

Last year marked the first time the number of single-store owners in the convenience industry exceeded 90,000, with 90,683 stores, or 62 percent of all c-stores in the U.S. In addition, less than 14 percent of the industry, equal to 19,833 stores, are owned and operated by companies with more than 500 stores, according to the study.

The percent of stores selling motor fuels was unchanged, at 79 percent. The total number of stores selling motor fuel did increase slightly year over year, from 114,974 to 115,157. Texas is the state with the most stores selling motor fuel, at 11,885 stores, while 96 percent of convenience stores in Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota sell motor fuel.

States with the lowest percentage of stores selling motor fuel include:

-- New Jersey (38 percent);

-- Oregon (58 percent);

-- Massachusetts (44 percent);

-- New York (53 percent); and

-- Rhode Island (57 percent)

While they do not meet the official NACS/TDLinx definition of a convenience store, gas station/kiosks -- which are fueling stations that have smaller stores -- were included in the study. The number of gas station/kiosks grew from 19,713 in 2006 to 19,935 in 2007, bringing the total number of convenience stores and kiosks to 166,229 in the U.S.

The top 10 states in the U.S. with the most convenience stores as of Dec. 31, 2007, are:

1. Texas -- 14,179 stores

2. California -- 10,294

3. Florida -- 9,424

4. New York -- 7,780

5. Georgia -- 6,384

6. North Carolina -- 6,255

7. Ohio -- 5,176

8. Michigan -- 4,843

9. Illinois -- 4,588

10. Virginia -- 4,529

The NACS/TDLinx census also found that the number of convenience stores is far greater than the store counts for competitive retail channels. The convenience store channel, at 146,294 stores, far outnumbers the combined count for supermarkets (34,967 stores); drug stores (37,537 stores); mass merchandiser/dollar stores (26,344 stores); and wholesale clubs (1,152 stores).