Skip to main content

Second Wave of Pandemic Isn't Providing Same Boost to C-stores as First Wave Did


ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As Americans entered into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic they are entering it with less reverence than they did the first wave, and their spending reflects their sentiments.

According to the latest monthly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 is affecting consumer behavior, dollar sales at U.S. convenience stores fell slightly during the past four weeks due to consumers making fewer trips and spending less overall. Still, spend per transaction continued to outperform the year-ago period as it has done for much of the pandemic, NACS Daily reported.

For the four weeks ended Nov. 29, dollar sales edged lower to +2.4 percent vs. +3.6 percent for the four weeks ended Nov. 1. Trips pulled back to -12.6 percent for the latest four-week period vs. -12 percent for the prior four-week period.

Although basket spend, or dollars per transaction, is still higher than the same period a year ago (+17.2 percent for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 vs. +17.7 percent for the period ended Nov. 1), consumers aren't spending as much inside the store as they did during the first wave of the pandemic this spring and through September, according to NACS.

The c-store categories that saw the biggest gains in trips for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 vs. Nov. 1 were: cigarettes (-10.5 percent vs. -11.5 percent); hot dispensed beverages (-28.7 percent vs. -29.3 percent); and packaged sweet snacks (-11.7 percent vs. -13.4 percent).

The hardest-hit categories by trips were packaged beverages (-2.8 percent vs. -0.8 percent); lottery/gaming (-14.4 percent vs. -9.3 percent); and candy (-12.5 percent vs. -10.8 percent).

On a dollar basis for the four-week period ended Nov. 29 vs. Nov. 1, the categories with the biggest changes were: packaged beverages (7.4 percent vs. 10.2 percent); lottery/gaming (6.6 percent vs. 17.7 percent); and foodservice prepared on-site (-12.9 percent vs. -17.5 percent).

NACS also found that unlike most months' end, store services performed quite well during the week ended Nov. 29, likely tied to holiday shopping. Additionally, trips during the morning rush daypart between 7 a.m. and 9:59 a.m. were at 85 percent of prior-year trips, up about a percentage point when compared with the four weeks ended Nov. 1.

Powered by PDI Insights Cloud, the PDI and NACS biweekly report provides consumer trip and basket-level data and analysis from 5,500 mid- to large-size convenience retail sites across all key geographic locations. The full report is available here.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds