How the Coronavirus Is Beginning to Impact the C-store Industry

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The point of sale in a convenience store

How the Coronavirus Is Beginning to Impact the C-store Industry

03/04/2020

NATIONAL REPORT — As the global economy continues to navigate the coronavirus and COVID-19, effects are starting to be felt in the convenience channel.

With convenience stores selling roughly 80 percent of gas in the United States, one byproduct of the virus is being reflected in prices at the pump. According to AAA, a recent decrease in crude prices has been driven by the growing impact of the coronavirus.

"The market continues to worry that the impact of the virus will lead to a reduction in global economic growth and global travel, with crude demand expected to decrease," the association said. "Until it appears that the international public health threat from the virus decreases and China's industrial sector recovers from the impact of the virus on production, crude prices are likely to continue facing downward pressure."

At the pump, GasBuddy said gas prices have decreased in almost every state and at least 3,000 gas stations are selling gas for less than $2, reported Action News Jax.

GasBuddy recommended that motorists wait to fill up because prices at the pump are expected to continue to drop if the virus continues to spread.

Inside the store, c-store operators may find consumers adding more to their baskets. According to Nielsen, consumers are stocking up on emergency supplies. They are also starting to think beyond emergency items, such as basic foodstuffs, including canned goods, flour, sugar and bottled water.

"Concerns are having a ripple effect into nonfood essentials as well. In the U.S., sales of supplements, fruit snacks and first aid kits, for example, are all on the rise," Nielsen said.

The research company's initial investigation across major countries around the world found that "significant spikes in the hoarding of emergency supplies is occurring in China, the U.S. and Italy, where consumers are rushing to build what are being labelled 'pandemic pantries,'" Nielsen added.

Increased public health concerns also led NACS to postpone its NACS Convenience Summit Asia, which was scheduled for March 3-5 in Bangkok. "The health and safety of our attendees, partners and staff is always our first priority," the association said.

NACS is issuing a full refund to all registered attendees in accordance with its event refund policy. Next year's NACS Convenience Summit Asia is slated to be held March 2-4, 2021 at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.

CDC Guidance

In late February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an interim guidance aimed at helping prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. 

Although much is unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads, the CDC said current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses.

The CDC's recommended strategies for employers include:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home;
  • Separate sick employees who show up for work;
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees;
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning; and
  • Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps.