Industry Roundup: The Top 10 Most-Read Stories of January 2020

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NATIONAL REPORT — Readers were drawn to multiple moves by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. last month, as well as news about awards, rewards and more. In the latest Industry Roundup, Convenience Store News presents the top 10 most-read stories for the month of January, based on reader views:

1) New Flavored E-Cigarette Cartridge Policy Goes Into Effect Feb. 6
The 30-day countdown began on Jan. 7 when the Food and Drug Administration published the new policy guidance in the Federal Register. That came five days after the agency released its new policy banning the manufacturing, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes — other than tobacco or menthol.

2) 7-Eleven Inc. to Acquire Independent 7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma
7-Eleven Inc. reached an agreement to add more than 100 independently run 7-Eleven-branded convenience stores in Oklahoma. Under the pact, the retail chain will acquire 7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma, which has been operating 7-Eleven-branded locations in central Oklahoma for nearly seven decades.

3) FDA Provides More Detail on Federal Tobacco 21 Implementation
"During this period of transition, the FDA expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. However, during this ramp-up period, FDA will continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program," the agency stated.

The FDA is also providing tools for retailers to help them calculate a customer's age. According to the agency, retailers who use its This is Our Watch digital age verification calendar may update the minimum purchase age on the calendar to 21 years old.

4) Forecast 2020: What’s the Prognosis for the C-store Industry?
The findings of the 18th annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study show that more than two-thirds of c-store retailers and nearly three-quarters of suppliers/wholesalers are optimistic about their companies' business prospects for the year ahead. While those numbers are high, they represent a slightly more sober view compared to the previous year.

5) 7-Eleven Tops 70,000 Global Locations
7-Eleven Inc. reached a major growth milestone of 70,000 locations worldwide, making it the largest convenience store retailer in the world. Now, customers can visit 7-Eleven in 17 countries and regions around the globe.

6) Focus on These Six Categories for In-Store Success in 2020
Generating incremental sales gains from inside the convenience store is getting harder every year. According to the latest Convenience Store News Industry Report, inside sales growth declined from a solid 3.8 percent in 2016, to a barely adequate 2.1 percent in 2017, to a disappointing 1.6 percent in 2018.

7) Convenience Store News Honors 13 Suppliers as 2020 Category Captains
The Category Captains program spotlights convenience channel suppliers for outstanding category management initiatives that have demonstrably enhanced overall category sales and profits for the retailers they serve.

8) Kwik Trip Leads Ranking of Top Gas Station Brands in U.S.
With more than 560 convenience stores in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, Kwik Trip swept the rankings by capturing the highest ratings and reviews in four of the six GasBuddy categories: cleanliness, outdoor lighting, restrooms and overall experience.

9) Casey's Plans to Add 350 New C-stores by 2023
Calling it intuitive, Brian Johnson, senior vice president of store development, noted that a convenience retailer needs to have convenient locations to draw shoppers. Currently, Casey's has a dense network of stores built around its two distribution centers, and the company believes there is "significant infill opportunities, particularly in midsize and suburban markets, to augment our outward expansion," Johnson said during the retailer's 2020 Investor Day, held Jan. 9 in New York.

10) ​2020 Ushers In Minimum Wage Increases Across the U.S.
The new year brought with it a slew of minimum wage increases across the United States. Twenty-six states implemented $1 or more increases as they rang in 2020.