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08/23/2021

Despite Labor Shortage, Overall C-store Revenue Is Holding Steady

Retailers can expect higher levels of shopper activity throughout the morning coinciding with more commuters frequenting stores, according to the latest PDI C-store Shopper Trends Report.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Finding reliable, long-term employees has long been an obstacle in the convenience store industry, but the current labor shortage is threatening to do even more harm.

Convenience store retailers are finding it more difficult to staff their stores due to an array of factors, including benefits, job flexibility and the rise of COVID-19 cases, according to the July 2021 C-store Shopper Trends Report from PDI, powered by PDI Insights Cloud data.

This month's installment of the insights report discusses the impact of the current labor shortage within c-stores, as well as the industry's slow return to topline growth.

Over the past year, retailers have had trouble staffing their stores because of increased labor costs and a lack of qualified workers — each contributing significantly to a shrunken workforce.

However, the report points out that there are opportunities for c-store operators. For instance, a shortage of employees could implore retailers to install self-checkout systems, accelerating the digital transformation of their stores. With staff freed up from the POS system, operators can reallocate employees’ skills to food prep during peak hours.

According to PDI, on-site foodservice options have skyrocketed compared to 2020. Foodservice transactions increased by 9.6 percent in the 21 weeks ending May 30, 2021, and increased by 16 percent in the five weeks ending July 4, 2021 vs. the prior year.

Category Opportunities

Despite the struggles caused by the labor shortage, overall c-store revenue is holding steady with recovery ongoing as inflationary concerns arise.

Sales of packaged beverages and beer remain strong despite supply chain disruptions. As Convenience Store News recently reported, 67 percent of convenience retailers reported supply disruptions with beer, while 72 percent reported the same issues with packaged beverages.

In particular, energy drinks this year continue to outperform 2020 numbers. 

The beer category may be a draw during dayparts other than the morning rush, helping trips overall, while energy drinks will keep fueling the morning crowd, PDI reported.

With trips are on the rise, c-store retailers can expect higher levels of shopper activity throughout the morning coinciding with more commuters frequenting stores.

PDI’s monthly C-store Shopper Trends Report combines consumer buying data from 5,500 mid- to large-sized convenience retailers across all key U.S. geographic locations. Alpharetta-based Professional Datasolutions Inc. (PDI) helps convenience retailers and petroleum wholesalers thrive through digital transformation and enterprise software.