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Foodservice Drove In-Store Sales Growth at C-stores in 2023

The average convenience store rang up 45,312 transactions per month last year, according to NACS.
Melissa Kress
Convenience store employee at checkout

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Total convenience industry sales hit $859.8 billion 2023, with $327.6 billion coming from inside sales. Additionally, the average basket increased 3.7% to $7.80, according to newly released data from NACS.

Overall, total industry foodservice sales accounted for 26.9% of in-store sales, up 1.3 percentage points in 2023 from the year prior. Foodservice sales include prepared food; commissary; and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages.

On the forecourt, convenience stores saw total fuel sales decrease to $532.2 billion, largely driven by lower gas prices — which decreased 11.2% to $3.53 in 2023, according to NACS. C-stores sell roughly 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States. 

[Read more: Convenience Store News Forecast Study 2024: Stuck in Neutral]

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Fuels sales accounted for 67.3% of revenues, but only 38.6% of profits for the convenience store industry in 2023, the association added. 

Factoring in both transactions at the pump and inside the store, the average convenience store had 45,312 transactions per month in 2023, or 1,491 per day, which is a 0.4% decrease from the year prior.

NACS released the sales data as part of the NACS State of the Industry Summit taking place April 3-5 in Rosemont, Ill. 

The convenience channel also saw its store count grow over the past year. There are currently 152,396 convenience stores operating in the United States, a 1.5% increase from last year's store count, according to the 2024 NACS/NIQ Convenience Industry Store Count.

Overall, six out of the last 10 years experienced growth in the convenience retail channel. The bulk of convenience stores comes from small, "A-sized" retailers who only operate between one to 10 stores and the majority of whom consist of only a single location. Second are "E-sized" operators with more than 500 stores.

In addition to an increased store count, inflationary pressures impacted prices—both of which played a role in in-store sales numbers in 2023. According to NACS, the consumer price index, which measures price changes over time, was 5.7% for 2023. Still, in-store sales showed real growth beyond store count and inflation.

Despite positive sales growth, direct store operating expenses climbed 3.3% to $150.1 billion in 2023, with wages and benefits representing the largest operating cost at $84.2 billion. Furthermore, average wages for full-time employees increased 30 cents to $14.73 per hour; part-time employees earned an average of $13.86 per hour, the association added. 

Cumulatively, the convenience store industry provided 2.74 million jobs across the United States in 2023.

Overall, the industry paid or collected $208 billion in taxes, which is 24% of total sales dollars at convenience stores in 2023. On a per-store basis, taxes collected averaged nearly $1.4 million. It's also estimated that stores also paid $4.4 billion in swipe fees on these taxes collected for the local, state and federal governments, NACS noted. 

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