Convenience store retail sales plunged into the red as COVID-19 caused economic shutdowns across the country, which adversely affected store traffic and fuel volume. There was an initial sales boom driven by panic-buying of basic essentials when the pandemic first gained notoriety in early to mid-March. However, soon after that, nationwide shelter-in-place restrictions destroyed demand for fuel and depressed customer traffic inside the store. Foodservice, including prepared food, fresh baked goods, and hot and cold dispensed beverages, were particularly hard-hit.
The 2020 Convenience Store News Midyear Report Card shows that most in-store product categories were negatively impacted by the pandemic during the first six months of this year.
Of the major categories tracked by Nielsen, beer exhibited the greatest percentage dollar growth in the first half of 2020. Edible grocery and non-edible grocery also saw uncommon sales gains as sheltering consumers bought essential grocery items and cleaning supplies at c-stores. Cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco also performed well in the first half.
Most other categories, however – especially those reliant on impulse purchasing – were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including gum and mints, packaged beverages, and salty snacks. Seasonal candy was also hurt as the Easter selling season fell right in the midst of the worst part of the health crisis.
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