A Look Back, A Look Forward

The top headlines of 2023 foretell an exciting new year for the c-store industry.
Linda Lisanti
Linda Lisanti

For the Convenience Store News editorial team, the month of December is always spent looking back and looking forward. We look back by combing through the headlines of the past 11 months to prepare our annual Year in Review roundups. We look forward by analyzing the data from our annual Forecast Study, compiling the findings to be published in our January issue. 

As is so often the case, many of this year’s top headlines pertained to merger and acquisition activity. Among the most-read stories, 2023 saw bp acquire TravelCenters of America Inc., adding 280-plus locations to its network. Maverik purchased Kum & Go, operator of 400-plus stores in 13 states. And MAPCO Express’ portfolio of more than 300 convenience stores was sold to two buyers: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and Majors Management LLC. 

An even bigger storyline that emerged this year, however, was the flurry of expansion announcements made by many of the c-store industry’s major players. There are too many to list them all here, but some of the coast-to-coast highlights include: 

  • Wawa Inc., which currently operates throughout the Northeast and Florida, set forth a strategy to double its footprint within the next decade. The retailer broke ground on its first store in Alabama and its first location in North Carolina. It also revealed plans to open inaugural stores in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. 
  • RaceTrac Inc. was putting the finishing touches on its first Indiana store in preparation for a mid-December opening. The chain, which bills itself as “the premier gas station in the South,” is also in the process of entering Ohio and South Carolina. 
  • Parker’s is reportedly looking to extend its current operational footprint beyond southeast Georgia and South Carolina, pushing into Florida. Public records show that Parker's recently purchased nearly 10 acres of land in North Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Casey’s General Stores Inc. identified unit growth as one of the key pillars of its new three-year strategic plan. President and CEO Darren Rebelez said: “We operate 2,500 convenience stores in 16 midwestern states and what I'd like to point out is that with those 2,500 stores in the 16 states, about 2,000 of those stores are in only nine of the states we operate in. So, the other 500 are scattered over the seven other states. We have a lot of white space to grow in our existing footprint. And of course, there's a lot more than 16 states in the U.S., so we have plenty of room beyond that.” 

Innovation in the U.S. convenience store industry is already at an all-time high. As the best of the best steadily move into new territories and eventually converge, I can only think that this amped-up competition will bring more exciting advancements and more sophisticated offers to the industry, propelling it to even higher highs. It’s sure to be an interesting 2024. 

Wishing you all a happy and profitable New Year! 

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