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U.S. C-store Count Rises on Increase in Single Stores

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The number of U.S. convenience stores continues to rise, with store-count growth in the past year again dominated by single-store operators.

The number of U.S. convenience stores increased nearly 1 percent year over year to 154,195 stores as of Dec. 31, 2015, up from 152,794 stores as of Dec. 31, 2014, according to the 2016 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

Single-store operators represented 74.3 percent of the industry's store-count growth in 2015 and now account for 63.1 percent of all U.S. convenience stores (97,359 single stores in total), reported NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, and Nielsen.

By comparison, single stores accounted for 83.5 percent of the industry's 2014 store-count growth and represented 60.3 percent of all c-stores in the nation (96,318 in total) last year at this time.

Among all the retail channels that Nielsen tracks, convenience stores accounted for 34.2 percent of all retail locations as of Dec. 31, 2015, far outpacing the superettes, supermarkets and supercenters segment (51,055 stores), drugstore segment (41,969 stores) and dollar store segment (27,378 stores).

“Our continued growth shows that our industry’s core offer of convenience resonates with time-starved customers, whether they are searching for a fuel fill-up, a quick and healthy snack, a refreshing drink or for fill-in groceries or takeout meals,” said NACS Chairman Jack Kofdarali, president of Corona, Calif.-based J&T Management Inc.

On a state-by-state basis, Texas continues to lead in c-store count with 15,607 stores. The rest of the top 10 states for convenience stores are: California (11,540 stores), Florida (9,909), New York (8,446), Georgia (6,765), North Carolina (6,330), Ohio (5,605), Michigan, (4,880), Illinois (4,732) and Pennsylvania (4,706) — the same top 10 as the previous year.

All states experienced year-over-year increases in c-store count with the exception of Georgia (minus one store) and Michigan (minus 27 stores).

The three states with the least number of convenience stores are: Alaska (206 stores), Delaware (350) and Wyoming (357).

Overall, 80.7 percent of convenience stores (124,374 locations) sell motor fuels.

During the past three decades, the c-store industry has roughly doubled in size, according to the NACS/Nielsen data. At year-end 1985, the industry's store count was 90,900 stores; at year-end 1995, the store count was 101,100 stores; and at year-end 2005, the store count was 140,665 stores.

Nielsen also provides store count data for the annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study and Industry Report.

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