Foodservice Benefits as Consumer Spending at C-stores Strengthens

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Convenience store customers closed out 2020 by opening their wallets wider during the lead-up to year-end holidays.

According to the latest biweekly report from PDI and NACS exploring how COVID-19 is affecting consumer behavior, foodservice, general merchandise and hot dispensed beverages benefited the most from increased spend per transaction compared to one year ago, as reported in NACS Daily.

Despite this, dollar sales contracted, falling from +2.7 percent for the five weeks ended Nov. 29, 2020, to +1.9 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 3, 2021. This is primarily because trips were -13.2 percent for the time period vs. -12 percent for the previous five weeks.

Spend per transaction rose to +17.5 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 3, compared with +16.8 percent for the previous five-week period. Basket spend during the pandemic has outpaced pre-pandemic spending as a result of consumers stocking up as well as prices in some categories increasing compared to last year.

The report noted that it is an encouraging sign that the foodservice segment increased +2.9 points on a dollar basis due to a steady increase in trips, while general merchandise increased +7.3 points and hot dispensed beverage saw a +0.3 point gain. However, foodservice and hot dispensed beverages remain in negative territory.

Morning trips between 7 a.m. and 9:59 a.m. haven't changed from their late November status at 85 percent of prior-year trips, but late evening trips (7 p.m. to 10:59 p.m.) fell 4.2 points compared to the five weeks ended Nov. 29, 2020.

During the last two weeks of 2020, compared to the last two weeks of 2019, dollars were up +5.4 percent, boosted by lottery/gaming, store services, general merchandise and prepaid cards. Lottery/gaming became a bigger contributor to average spend for the two weeks ended Jan. 3, 2021.

The report found that the New Year's performance was stronger than Christmas, as store services again saw a significant increase at the start of the month but December trips were up +34 percent vs only +7.3 percent in the prior five weeks.