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End-of-Summer Holiday Period at C-stores Falls Short of Year-Ago Results

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Labor Day holiday brought more people into convenience stores than the previous weeks, but the traffic was down compared to 2019.

According to the latest biweekly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 continues to impact consumer behavior, c-store trips in the week leading up to the week ended Sept. 6 were up 3 percent compared with the prior week. However, they were down 7.9 percent vs. a year ago, the week ended Sept. 9, 2019 — a rate last seen at the start of March, according to NACS Daily.

Looking specifically at the 2020 Labor Day weekend vs. the 2019 Labor Day weekend, trips were down 10.1 percent, which is in line with the overall trip decline rate in the convenience channel since May. Overall, for the three weeks ended Sept.13, trips were down 12.7 percent compared with a year ago, NACS reported.

By daypart, the report found trips were lower across the board, with the weekday morning rush at 80 percent of 2019 trips, compared with 83 percent for the two weeks ended Aug. 23 and 85 percent for the two weeks ended Aug. 9.

According to the findings, however, gains made leading up to the holiday weekend were lost during the week most likely driven by lower traffic on Monday.

Despite less trips, basket spend has been strong compared to 2019, with dollars per transaction up roughly 20 percent.  

As for dollar sales growth, the channel is still seeing low single digits — but lower than the past few months. According to the market research, during the three weeks ended Sept. 13, dollar sales were up 3.9 percent year over year, compared with 5.3-percent growth for the three weeks ended Aug. 16.

Broken out by category, packaged beverage trips were a -3.8 percent despite making gains in the positive territory during the two weeks ended Aug. 23. Strong performers included general merchandise, liquor and wine.

Additional PDI/NACS insights for the period ended Sept.13, compared with the two-week period ended Aug. 23 include: 

  • Cold dispensed beverage trips gave up earlier gains (-32.1 percent vs. -27.8 percent)
  • Hot dispensed beverage trips improved (-24.8 percent vs. -31.4 percent)
  • Cigarettes' trips remained nearly flat (-10.1 percent vs. -10.3 percent).
  • Other tobacco products' trips idled (-8.8 percent vs. -8.7 percent).
  • Salty snacks' trips were relatively unchanged (-13 percent vs. -12.5 percent).
  • Foodservice trips continued to improve (-18.2 percent vs. -23.5 percent).

For a summary of the report, which is powered by PDI Insights Cloud, click here.

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