Convenience Store Operators Expect Strong Summer Sales
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Most U.S. convenience store operators experienced strong sales during the first half of 2019 and expect warm weather and low gas prices to continue that trend throughout the next three months, according to results of a new survey from NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
Three-quarters of c-store retailers said their merchandise for the first six months of the year were higher than the same time period in 2018, while just 5 percent said sales were lower. They also reported stable fuel sales, with 70 percent noting that fuel sales were the same or higher than last year.
Retailers also expressed overwhelming positivity about future sales, as 83 percent said they are optimistic about their business during the third quarter of 2019, a 12-percent jump from Q2, but similar to optimism levels in the summers of 2018 (86 percent) and 2017 (83 percent), NACS said.
Traditionally, c-store sales peak in the summer due to warmer weather, longer daylight hours and more people taking family vacations or otherwise spending time outdoors. Consumers are also more likely to spend more when gas prices are low, and the national average gas price is currently nearly 20 cents less than one year ago.
Continued consumer demand for healthier food and snacks choices is another reason for optimism, with c-stores reporting that they added or expanded these categories during the first half of the year:
- Packaged salads (42 percent)
- Health bars (40 percent)
- Fresh fruit (32 percent)
- Nuts/trail mix (30 percent)
- Cut fruit/vegetables (25 percent)
Healthy beverages are also top of mind with c-store operators, who cited these varieties as having the greatest potential to boost in-store sales during the summer months:
- Bottled still water (59 percent)
- Lower-calorie sports drinks (59 percent)
- Sparkling water (50 percent)
- Lower-calorie teas and coffee (37 percent)
Additionally, 27 percent of retailers report that they have installed or are considering installing electric vehicle chargers.