New COVID-19 Case Spikes Modestly Impact C-store Visits


ADDISON, Texas — For the first time since mid-April, convenience store sales have experienced three consecutive weeks of modestly negative sales growth vs. year-ago levels, and trips and baskets are also down slightly, according to Koupon Media's latest Koupon Insights report.

With the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases, Koupon Media assessed the correlation of the pandemic and retailer in-store trips by measuring the growth of each metric on a week-over-week moving average basis. It found that:

  • In the four weeks beginning in mid-March, in-store trips dropped a double-digit percentage basis. This was a result of a few specific hot spots that emerged nationwide and consumers severely limiting their time out of home.
  • Trips began growing again in mid-April, while there were only a few thousand cases nationally. For the next 90 days, cases grew steadily while trip growth stayed within a narrow range of 0 percent to 4 percent. Consumers returned to c-stores, settling into new patterns.
  • From late June to late July, cases grew more than 100 percent and retailers saw a net 4 percent decline in in-store trips, demonstrating a modest inverse correlation.

"We can see that COVID-19 certainly was a shock to c-store purchase behavior early in the crisis, but the recent dramatic rise in new cases has had modest impact on trips. Once again, we see that c-store consumer demand has been remarkably resilient," Koupon Media said in its report.

In an earlier report, the organization found that c-store trips on certain days of the week are recovering at different rates. Diving into daypart sales trends and looking for similar patterns, Koupon Media found that the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daypart, which is the most meaningful for c-store sales, experienced the greatest decline early in the crisis.

Looking at year-over-year sales growth trends by daypart and month, Koupon Media found that:

  • Both the early morning daypart (defined as midnight to 6 a.m.) and the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daypart grew vs. June 2019.
  • The 2 p.m. to midnight daypart has recovered at a dramatic rate but continues to lag compared to year-ago levels.

"While consumer traffic patterns are quite different today, consumers continue to see value in the channel throughout the crisis. We expect continued in-store growth over the remainder of 2020," the organization said.

Addison-based Koupon Media works with brands to deploy personalized, channel-wide promotions, and helps retailers to secure additional brand trade spending and grow shopper engagement. Since its founding in 2011, it's delivered more than 4 billion offers.