Morning Daypart Trips to C-stores Are at 80% of Prior Year


ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Although trips to U.S. convenience stores saw a slight bump in trips for the week ended May 24 vs. the previous week, the channel is still lagging behind one year ago, according to the latest weekly report from NACS and PDI on how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior.

Trips from 7 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. are at 80 percent of prior year trips, as consumers have not collectively resumed their pre-pandemic travel routines.

Despite this, data showed an improvement from the week ended May 17, when trips during the morning rush were at 75 percent of the level they were at on that date in 2019.

The overall uptick in c-store trips is likely due to purchases made leading up to Memorial Day and the easing of stay-at-home restrictions, according to NACS. Spend per transaction declined from the previous week.

Dollar sales for packaged beverages improved compared to the week ended May 17, at 3.7 percent vs. 1.3 percent, respectively, when spend declined after two straight weeks of gains. Alcohol, candy, salty snacks and tobacco saw relatively little change, while lottery/gaming and store services saw declines.

The growth of small categories such as frozen foods and non-edible grocery has not slowed, which indicates that some newly adopted consumer behavior is staying.

Foodservice and refreshment options remain lower due to the continued shutdown of in-store dining, self-serve beverages and roller grills in many regions. Food prepared on-site, packaged sweet snacks, commissary and cold/hot/frozen dispensed beverages all remained in the negative for dollar sales, transactions and trips.

Other key insights for the week ended May 24 include:

  • Spend per trip rose year over year but fell from the prior week (22.6 percent vs. 24.8 percent for the week ended May 17). This is partly due to the continued decline in high-spend store services such as money orders, which typically peak at the beginning of each month.
  • Trips grew slightly higher from the prior week, indicating that the year-over-year decline is slowing (a drop of 13.5 percent vs. 14.8 percent for the week ended May 17).
  • Dollar sales fell marginally from the prior week (an increase of 6 percent vs. 6.3 percent for the week ended May 17).
  • Average basket size continued to shrink ($9.54 vs. $9.64 for the week ended May 17).

The weekly report is powered by PDI Insights Cloud and provides consumer trip and basket-level data and analysis.