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Three Trends Shaping the C-store of Tomorrow

Food quality, EV charging stations and general ambiance are all playing bigger roles in driving store traffic.
A convenience store gas station at night

OTTAWA, Ontario — The potential for convenience stores to compete with traditional fast-food restaurants, the availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and general cleanliness and store ambiance can all play a significant role in drawing in new customers, according to a new report from Intouch Insight.

[Read more: Convenience Retailers Push the Engagement Envelope]

The "2024 Convenience Store Trends Report" suggested that as c-stores continue to evolve, they should focus on meeting the broader needs of their customers beyond their more prototypical foodservice fare. This could include incorporating technology, improving store environments and offering amenities like EV chargers. The report found these changes are particularly appealing to younger consumers, which could provide an indicator for future expectations.

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"We are witnessing a shift in how consumers perceive convenience stores, not just as quick stops for fuel and snacks, but as destinations for quality meals," said Cameron Watt, president and CEO at Intouch Insight. "This year's findings show the need for convenience stores to continuously adapt and elevate their offerings and environment to meet rising consumer expectations."

Some of the key findings from the study included:

  • 56% of respondents consider convenience stores a viable food option over fast-food chains, reflecting an increase of 11% over the past two years alongside an improved impression of c-store food quality and variety. Overall, 93% of consumers have tried made-to-order food from c-stores.
  • Younger consumers in particular prioritize alternative fuel access, with 34% of respondents aged 18-44 preferring retail locations with EV charging stations, compared to 14% of those 45 years and older. Preferences for EV charging stations also varied based on geographic location and local factors.
  • A majority of consumers (53%) now consider cleanliness and store ambiance crucial factors when choosing a convenience store, up from 43% last year and highlighting growing expectations for a pleasant shopping environment.

Other factors driving consumer preferences the study looked at included the utilization of digital marketing both inside and outside stores and the personalization of both loyalty programs and shopping methods such as online ordering or delivery.

[Read more: Demand for EV Charging at the Workplace Increases]

Insight compiled the report through the use of consumer perception surveys with upwards of 1,200 responses from respondents across North America, as well as mystery shopping and operational audits.

The full report may be found here.

Founded in 1992, Intouch Insight provides customer experience solutions to more than 300 North American businesses, including data collection and analytics services across multiple touchpoints.

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