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Fuel-Selling C-stores Outpace Overall Industry Growth

NATIONAL REPORT -– The growth of convenience stores selling motor fuel was nearly triple the overall store growth in the c-store industry, according to new data released today by the 2013 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

The U.S. convenience store count grew slightly to a record 149,220 stores as of Dec. 31, 2012. That’s an increase of 1,094 stores, or 0.7 percent, from the prior year.

The increase in the number of convenience stores selling fuel was attributed to both fuel retailers adding convenience store operations as well as traditional convenience store retailers adding fueling operations. In total, 82.6 percent of convenience stores sell motor fuels, an increase of 2,339 stores, or 1.9 percent, from 2011.

The industry also continues to be dominated by single-store owners, which accounted for 62.9 percent of total industry stores. The 93,819 single-store owners represented a 0.7 percent increase over 2011.

The convenience store industry continues to be highly polarized between small and big operators. Evidence can be seen in the fact that the only other company-sized group to experience store growth last year were stores owned by companies with 500 or more stores. These giant retailers increased by 8.9 percent to 21,738 stores.

Overall, the convenience store industry continued to increase store count through good times and bad. Store count has grown from 76,200 stores in 1982 to 100,800 in 1992 and 132,400 in 2002. Even with the recession and stagnant economy of the past three years, store count has increased each year since 2011 to almost 150,000 at the end of 2012. That figure represents 34.8 percent of all retail outlets in the United States and is significantly higher than the total of other retail outlets tracked by Nielsen, including 40,727 drug stores, 33,192 supermarkets and 24,075 dollar stores.

Texas (14,920 stores), California (10,916), and Florida (9,571) are the top three states in c-store count. Several states had store count growth of 2 percent or more, including Alaska (4.1 percent), Hawaii (2.7 percent), Utah (2.6 percent), Delaware (2.4 percent), and Maryland (2.3 percent).

Nielsen’s store count figures are based in part on data reported by Nielsen for the period ending Dec. 2012 through its TDLinx service for retail channels. Nielsen determines its convenience store count using the store definition that requires units to include a broad merchandise mix, extended hours of operation and a minimum of 500 SKUs, among other factors.

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