Foodservice Slowdown Dampens In-Store Sales Record

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- U.S. convenience stores achieved record in-store sales in 2013, climbing 2.4 percent to $204 billion, according to figures released today by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. This good news, however, was offset by slumping foodservice sales, which only grew by the same 2.4-percent.

Considering that most convenience stores are placing an emphasis on foodservice, the growth in this category could be classified by many as disappointing. Growth of more than 2 percent is not enough to counteract declines in the tobacco category, for example. In 2012, c-store foodservice sales increased 15.8 percent.

According to the data presented today at the NACS State of the Industry Summit, foodservice also requires more labor. "The industry saw a dramatic 19.5-percent increase in employees, a function of the industry's continuing embrace of foodservice, which requires more labor to manage," NACS stated in a news release.

One positive on the foodservice front was gross profits. Foodservice accounted for 29.1 percent of the c-store industry's gross profits last year, followed by packaged beverages at 19.6 percent and tobacco products at 18.7 percent.

Here's how total in-store sales were broken down in 2013:

  • Tobacco: 37 percent of sales;
  • Foodservice: 18 percent;
  • Packaged beverages: 15.5 percent;
  • Center of the store (candy and snacks): 9.9 percent;
  • Beer: 7.9 percent; and
  • Other: 11.7 percent.

As for its place in the overall retail market, the convenience channel accounts for slightly more than one-third (34.3 percent) of all retail outlets in the United States, according to Nielsen. The 151,282 c-stores in the U.S. as of Dec. 31 outnumbered drugstores, supermarket/supercenters and dollar stores combined.

C-stores employed 2.2 million people in 2013 and generated $174.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes. In addition, c-stores represented one out of every $25 of the entire $17.4 trillion U.S. gross domestic product.


Motor fuel sales reached $491.5 billion in 2013, with 83.7 percent of U.S. convenience stores (126,658) selling motor fuels, an increase of 2.7 percent year over year.

Motor fuel sales last year hit a new high on a per-gallon basis, with gallon sales rising 0.9 percent year over year to 132,029 gallons per store per month. However, a 2.9-percent decrease in fuel prices led to an overall 2.1-percent decrease in fuel sales, NACS reported.

Motor fuels accounted for 70 percent of total c-store sales, but only comprised 35.6 percent of profit dollars. Motor fuel gross margins were 18.5 cents per gallon before expenses.

"Our industry numbers demonstrate that convenience and fuel retailing continue to grow, despite economic and retail environment challenges," said NACS Chairman Brad Call, vice president of adventure culture at Utah-based convenience store chain Maverik Inc. "These numbers show that we continue to meet the needs of our diverse consumers throughout the United States."

The 2013 c-store industry data is based on the NACS State of the Industry survey, powered by its wholly owned subsidiary CSX.

Founded in 1961, Alexandria, Va.-based NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in 50 countries.

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