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New Research Shows Convenience Store Visits Remain Stable

HOUSTON -- While the economy as a whole struggles with a wobbly economic recovery, things are looking steady for the convenience store market. During the second calendar quarter of 2012, c-store visits remained stable and total channel sales were up compared to one year ago, according to data from The NPD Group.

C-stores saw 2.2 billion visits during Q2 2012, approximately the same as Q2 2011, with aggregate channel sales rising 5.9 percent over the same time period. Specifically, visits to small and other c-store chains rose 2 percent, but visits to major c-store chains dropped by the same amount, according to NPD's Convenience Store Monitor.

Traditional c-stores saw a 1-percent drop in visits, while traffic was flat during the second quarter. Morning traffic declined by 4.5 percent, but midday visits grew 5.5 percent, and afternoon daypart traffic grew 1.9 percent.

"Stable is a good place for the c-store channel to be right now given the current state of the economy," said David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD's convenience store research. "Although the channel appears to be bucking hints of a double-dip recession, consumers are still evaluating purchases for value and necessity and, as a result, c-store retailers and manufacturers will need to offer and promote value."

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