CSNews Exclusive: C-Stores Struggle Through Winter Mix


WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. -- Day after day, people across the country dread watching weather reports on the nightly news. It seems to be a case of "same thing, different day." From record-breaking snow totals in the Northeast and frigid temperatures in the South, to ice storms in the West, the winter is taking its toll on a weary nation and a weary business community.

"The weather hurts a little bit," explained Bill Tencza, senior category manager at Quick Chek. "In the Northeast, the storms have been hitting us during the week, mainly during rush hour. Commuters are not stopping in the morning."

In addition, more people may not be venturing outside during the day, impacting the midday rush at convenience stores. However, Quick Chek does experience a slight uptick in staple products, he said. "When storms like this hit during the week we sell more take-home products like bread and milk."

While the Northeast has been continually digging out since a blizzard walloped the region the day after Christmas, a monster storm barreled its way across the country on Feb. 2. Affecting more than 100 million people, snow in places like Chicago was measured in feet, not inches. And ice coated everything from roads, cars and sidewalks in places like Missouri, Indiana, New York and Oklahoma.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, headquartered in Oklahoma City, has also seen an impact on business at its locations spread across 30 states. "When the weather turns bad it definitely affects people’s patterns and how much they can get out," Jenny Love Meyer, director of communications, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores.

Meyer does not have the hard sales figures right now, but anecdotally, she said the company will see a difference in sales between this winter and warmer months. "Sunny nice weather definitely makes a difference," she added.

But despite Old Man Winter’s grip on the country Meyer said none of the company’s 200-plus locations have had to close. That has been good news for drivers who have had to park and stay at Love’s Travel Stops when interstates close or get too treacherous. "We pride ourselves on staying open 365 days a year," she explained. "We need to be there for our customers."

The latest major storm fell on -- appropriately -- Groundhog’s Day. But even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, winter does not officially end until March 19. And today, much of the country is keeping its collective eye on a storm that could strike later this week. If the storm develops, according to Accuweather.com, it will begin as a snow and wintry mix over the southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley midweek then move onto the Southeast, landing in the Northeast on Thursday. The Web site adds that even if the storm does not materialize, more intense cold air will come down from the Arctic and blanket much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States.

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